FAUGHEEN was a hugely impressive winner of the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton to strengthen his grip on the Champion Hurdle market.
Willie Mullins sent the six-year-old over for the Grade One admitting he was surprised at the progress his charge had made in the last 12 months. The only blemish came at the last but jockey Ruby Walsh was delighted.
“He jumped great barring the last, but the race was over. He does not lack speed or pace,” said the rider.
However, stablemate Vautour, who runs in the same Rich Ricci colours, was unexpectedly defeated in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown after making a bad mistake five fences from the finish.
It handed victory to Bryan Cooper aboard Clarcum. In a twist of irony, the jockey suffered multiple leg injuries when falling from the Gordon Ellliott-trained runner at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Elliott said: “It’s great for Bryan as this is the horse that he broke his leg on at Cheltenham. I know Vautour made mistakes but my horse didn’t just win by a length or two – he destroyed them.
“Bryan gave him a great ride – I thought he got to the front a bit soon, but it worked out grand. It’s great to win another Grade One for Gigginstown. We’ll look at coming back here for the (Irish) Arkle and see what happens then.”