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Annie Power new fav for Champion Hurdle as Faugheen ruled out

David Metcalf | February 17, 2016

Faugheen ruled out of Champion

Faugheen, who had been the 1/3 red-hot favourite with Coral to defend his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham next month, has suffered a setback and will miss the festival.

The sensational news broke shortly before racing got underway at Punchestown today.

Trainer Willie Mullins said: “We were just bringing him back. We had 28 days from yesterday to the Champion Hurdle and I said ‘I better start doing a bit with him’ and getting serious.

“He was just a little bit sore and our vet confirmed he had a small suspensory injury and I didn’t want to risk going any further. I just took a view that it was better to stop now and he’d be back for next year.

Faugheen (Ruby Walsh) win the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle Leopardstown Photo: Patrick McCann 24.01.2016

“It’s something like what happened to Hurricane Fly going to Cheltenham and he came back and was as sound as a pound for five or six years after.

“We think the prognosis is very good and he should be back as good as new next year.”

Ruby Walsh has ridden Faugheen in 11 races, including at Cheltenham last year, and told At The Races: “Willie told me on the way racing. It’s disappointing.

“It’s like someone whipping the ace out of the pack and handing you the rest of the cards.”

Annie Power now favourite

Faugheen’s defection has, not surprisingly, resulted in a massive shake-up in the ante post market for the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, March 15th, on which Coral are betting Non Runner/No Bet.

His stablemate Annie Power, who made a winning return to action when toying with two rivals in the opener at Punchestown is the new 2/1 favourite.

Mullins said that it was now “on the cards” that the Rich Ricci owned mare would be supplemented for the contest at a cost of £20,000.

Speaking after her facile success at Punchestown, he said: “We can get her supplemented. She could be in it.

“I haven’t spoken to the owner yet about anything like that, but I think it must be on the cards, I think.”

Annie Power and Ruby Walsh jumping when winning the punchestown.com Mares Hurdle Punchestown Photo: Patrick McCann 17.02.2016

Arctic Fire, who chased home Faugheen in last year’s Champion and is also trained by Mullins, is now 3/1 second favourite with Coral to go one better in next month’s renewal.

Mullins also has the fourth in the betting courtesy of Nichols Canyon who beat Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle earlier in the season and is 4/1.

The Henry De Bromhead trained Identity Thief, winner of this season’s Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, is next best in at 9/2 and gives the Irish the first five in the Champion Hurdle market.

The New One and My Tent Or Yours are both priced up at 7/1 and look the main contenders for the home team.

The latter, who is trained by Nicky Henderson and finished runner-up to Jezki in the 2014 running of the Champion Hurdle, is due to have his first run in nearly two years in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday, February 20th.

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