What does the future hold for Faugheen?
Irish trainer Willie Mullins’ has an embarrassment of riches to go to war with next season, and this year’s Neptune winner Faugheen is one of the real big guns.
The six-year-old is now unbeaten in six runs, two in bumpers and four over hurdles, and hasn’t yet had to be asked a serious question in all of those successes.
He only had to be ridden out to beat Ballyalton by 4 1/2 lengths in the 2m 5f Neptune, leaving the impression that he had tons left in the tank and was only doing what was required to get the job done.
The strapping son of Germany has won at a variety of distances, so that opens up a whole host of possible options for next season.
He could stay over hurdles and be trained with a crack at the World Hurdle in mind, but his trainer believes that chasing is his game and that sets up possible tilts at either the Arkle over 2m or the RSA over what looks a more suitable 3m.
Speaking after his win in the Neptune, Mullins said: “He looks a real good one. When he blundered through the third last I thought he might fall in a heap. But Ruby let him recover and I was more than surprised to see him pick himself up again. That showed his class and is the sign of a good horse. He took the last as he met it, flew it and flew up at the hill.
“Because Faugheen has won at two, two and a half and three, we weren’t sure which race but we seemed to have a good horse for the two-mile and a good horse for the three-mile, so he just slotted into this race.
“Everyone seems to be trying to make hurdlers out of my chasers and, although Faugheen will be staying over hurdles for the rest of the season, we bought him as a chaser. I think that with his temperament I’d prefer to send him chasing next season.”
If he does go chasing next season, as seems highly likely judging by his trainers’ post-race comments, then he has the scope and potential to go right to the very top.
He has a rare mixture of speed and stamina, and that is going to make him very hard to beat over whatever distance he is campaigned.
With stable companion Vautour being all pure speed he looks the obvious stable number one for the Arkle.
He is also owned by Rich Ricci, and that means they are going to be kept apart.
It would make no sense whatsoever to let them take each other on, so for me Faugheen is likely to go down the RSA route.
Yes, he could make up into a live contender for the World Hurdle if he sticks to the smaller obstacles.
But with this year’s winner More Of That so impressive in beating the stable’s wonder mare Annie Power, I don’t think they would be keen to have another crack at Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding given his ultra-progressive profile.