Patrick Mullins is not ruling out seeing Faugheen serve it up to brilliant mare Apple’s Jade in today’s Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown (13:50).
‘The Machine’ will be having just his second run over the three-mile trip, with Faugheen having romped to victory in last season’s Champion Stayers’ Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
He finished second to stablemate Sharjah in last month’s Morgiana Hurdle on his seasonal reappearance and is now seemingly set for a campaign over longer trips as age blunts his speed.
Faugheen, who will turn 11-years-old on New Year’s Day, is an 11/4 chance with Betfred and Patrick Mullins, assistant trainer to his father, Willie, gives him a decent chance of testing Apple’s Jade.
The mare is a six-time Grade One scorer herself, including most impressively in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse recently, but Mullins feels going left-handed around Leopardstown might give Faugheen an advantage.
“If he can reproduce his performance from Punchestown he’ll put it up to Apple’s Jade, but she was exceptional the last day in Fairyhouse and will probably be hard to beat,” said Patrick Mullins.
“However, she’s probably best going right-handed.
“Faugheen is going to have to run right up to his best, right up to what he did at Punchestown in April, to beat her.”
Apple’s Jade is the 4/6 favourite with Betfred to win the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Bapaume and Shaneshill also run for the Mullins’ yard, while Gordon Elliott saddles Cracking Smart alongside favourite Apple’s Jade in the Gigginstown silks.
The field is completed for former Champion Hurdle winner Jezki, 33/1 to roll back the years for Jessica Harrington and Barry Geraghty, alongside the Joseph O’Brien-trained Early Doors.