Hard to fault super Faugheen

Faugheen bounds his way to victory
Faugheen bounds his way to victory
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Faugheen, subject of a massive gamble, gave Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh another Cheltenham Festival winner with an impressive success in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.

The six-year-old maintained his 100 per cent record as he swept to the front after three out and pulled clear of the opposition.

Faugheen, the 6-4 favourite, passed the post four and a half lengths in front of Ballyalton, with the winner’s stablemate, Rathvinden, half a length away in third.

Walsh said: “He had a look at the second-last and I upped the revs.

“Willie said all along that there was a lot under the bonnet and he was right.

“He’s a smashing horse.”

Mullins said: “I think he wants fences. He has a disregard for hurdles, he just wants to go.

“Fences might make him respect things more.”

Earlier Walsh has clarified his views after reports he claimed horses were expendable following the death of Our Conor at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Winner of the Triumph hurdle 12 months ago, Dessie Hughes’ charge was put down after sustaining a back injury when falling the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

On Monday, Walsh’s weighing-room colleague Jason Maguire suffered a bad fall at Stratford, with his injuries resulting in part of his liver being removed.

After winning the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday, Walsh said: “You can make too much of winning here. This morning was a cold and timely reminder with Jason Maguire. There’s a lot more to life than riding winners at Cheltenham. It’s a big week but there’s more to life than Cheltenham.”

Following the fall of Our Conor, the Daily Mail quoted Walsh as saying: “Horses are horses. You can replace a horse.

“It’s sad, but horses are animals, outside your back door. Humans are humans. They are inside your back door.

“You can replace a horse. You can’t replace a human being. That’s my feeling on it.”

The comments sparked a furious response from a number of animal welfare groups, but Walsh felt his view had been slightly misinterpreted.

He told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast on talkSPORT: “We look after horses like they’re pets. There’s a huge difference between your pet and your family. That’s the point I was making.

“There’s a big difference between you going home tonight and something’s happened to your dog, and you go home tonight and something’s happened to one of your kids. There’s a huge difference.

“We look after horses like they are pets, and that’s the feeling you get when something goes wrong. At the end of the day, it’s still your pet. It ain’t your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister.”

The British Horseracing Authority underlined its commitment to horse welfare and pointed out an improvement in equine fatality statistics.