Cheltenham Festival: Faugheen heads 19 Champion Hurdle entries
David Metcalf | January 20, 2016
Defending champion Faugheen, the odds-on 4/7 favourite with Coral, was among 19 entries for the revealed today for the Grade 1 Champion Hurdle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, March 15th.
The Willie Mullins trained gelding powered home in the 2m championship contest in 2015 by a 1 1/2 lengths from his stable companion Arctic Fire (8/1), who is also entered once again.
Mullins boasts strong contingent
Faugheen is after his third consecutive victory at The Festival, having taken the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 2014.
Eight-year-old Faugheen, who has only been beaten once in 12 starts, was last seen out when winning the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park on Boxing Day for the second year in succession.
Ireland’s champion Jumps trainer Mullins has also entered the only horse ever to overcome Faugheen, Nichols Canyon (6/1 second favourite with Coral), as well as Sempre Medici.
There are five Irish-trained entries, as Henry de Bromhead has entered this season’s Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Identity Thief (12/1).
Henderson hopes headed by Peace And Co
Nicky Henderson is the joint most successful trainer ever in the race with five victories and the Lambourn handler has made five entries this year.
Henderson’s quintet from Seven Barrows are dual Grade 1 winner and 2014 Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours (25/1), Sign Of A Victory (66/1) and the first three horses home in the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at last year’s Festival – Peace And Co (12/1), Top Notch (33/1) and Hargam (33/1).
Nicholls looks to Old Guard
Paul Nicholls landed the Champion Hurdle in 2012 with Rock On Ruby and has two entries this year – Old Guard (33/1) and All Yours.
Five-year-old Old Guard has proved himself at Cheltenham this season with wins in the Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at The Open meeting and the Grade 2 International in November, but could only finish fourth behind Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
British entrants include Twiston-Davies star
The New One (20/1) finished second to Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle and has lined up at The Festival the past four years, faring best when taking the 2013 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding has contested the Champion Hurdle twice, coming home third to Jezki in 2014 and fifth last year.
Of the 14 British-trained entries, 13 are located in England and one in Scotland.
Trainer James Ewart, based near Langholm in Dumfriesshire, is responsible for the Scottish hope Aristo Du Plessis, who has won his last six completed starts, rising from a rating of 109 to 150 after his latest success in a £40k handicap hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day.