Irish Champion Hurdle Preview: Defi Du Seuil To Turn Over Faugheen
Following his inexplicable performance when pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas it is anyone’s guess what to expect from the Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen in Saturday’s BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Festival but current odds of 5-4 about the ten-year-old make no appeal whatsoever in the circumstances. The son of Germany may well get back to his imperious ways but at a short price is worth taking on, especially with connections unable to give a valid excuse for his poor run last month.
Seventeen horses remain in contention for the two mile Grade 1 contest on Monday but most of those will drop out before the weekend with a final line up of six or seven expected. The chances of odds on Champion Hurdle favourite Buveur D’Air turning up are virtually nil while top novice Samcro is surely destined for an easier option on the same card. As well as Faugheen Mullins is also likely to be represented by International Hurdle third Melon but the six-year-old will need to settle better than he did at Cheltenham last time, leaving the 11-2 available with Ladbrokes and Coral about the Philip Hobbs-trained Defi Du Seuil as the value bet of the race.
Unbeaten in seven starts over hurdles as a novice culminating in easy victories at Cheltenham and Aintree the Voix Du Nord gelding looked a potential Champion Hurdle winner in the making before blotting his copybook somewhat on his seasonal reappearance at Ascot in November. Sent off the 10-11 favourite for the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle the mount of Barry Geraghty looked a shadow of the horse who carried all before him as a juvenile but it later transpired that the gelding scoped badly after the race.
Despite holding an entry in Sandown’s Betfred Contenders Hurdle on the same day as the Irish feature Frank Berry, racing manager for owner JP McManus, said on Monday: “ The plan is for Defi Du Seuil to run at Leopardstown providing he scopes right. It will be good to get him back on track to see where he slots in. Barry Geraghty will be riding Buveur D’Air at Sandown. It isn’t yet written in stone who will be on Defi Du Seuil.” A victory for Defi Du Seuil on Saturday could see him promoted to second favourite for the Champion Hurdle for which he is currently a 20-1 chance with Ladbrokes and Coral.