Following his bitterly disappointing defeat at Leopardstown over christmas the Willie Mullins-trained eight-time Grade 1 winner Faugheen was expected to get back to winning ways at that course in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, day one of the Dublin Racing Festival, on Saturday afternoon. Sent off the well-backed 9-10 favourite after being available at 7-4 earlier in the week the mount of Paul Townsend set out to make all of the running and was still in front jumping the final flight of hurdles but when challenged by 8-1 chance Supasundae on the run-in the Rich Ricci-owned gelding found precious little in the closing stages.
Pushed out to a best price 8-1 with Boylesports and Stan James for the Unibet-sponsored championship contest next month Faugheen looks a shadow of the horse of old and could prove a sitting duck for current 4-6 ( sponsor ) favourite Buveur D’Air if employing similar tactics to those employed at Leopardstown. Supasundae, however, has a different target at the festival and is now the new favourite for the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at a general 7-2 with most bookmakers including Coral and William Hill.
Jessica Harington’s charge has already shown his liking for Prestbury Park having won last year’s Coral Cup and following a highly-creditable attempt in trying to give 7lb ( beaten half a length ) to super mare Apple’s Jade last time the chances of the eight-year-old at the Cheltenham Festival is clear for all to see.
The eagerly awaited clash between top two mile novices Footpad and Petit Mouchoir in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase resulted in the former making all to keep his unbeaten record over fences, causing bookmakers to trim his Racing Post Arkle odds into 11-10 ( Boylesports ) while the latter lost nothing in defeat following a long lay-off and is disputing second favouritism at 6-1 with Sceau Royal for the two mile test of speed and jumping.
The Grade 2 Coral Dublin Chase went to the Willie Mullins-trained Min with the son of Walk In The Park gaining revenge over Simply Red, who got the race in the steward’s room on their last encounter, when sauntering home under David Mullins and is now a top price 3-1 with William Hill for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase behind the currently indisposed 5-4 market leader Altior.