RICH Ricci, owner of the hugely popular Faugheen, has confirmed that the horse is on course for this year’s Punchestown Festival after a storming run in Thursday’s opener at the Cheltenham Festival. Samcro just about held off Melon to take the win but Faugheen ran on very strongly in third in the Marsh Novices Chase.
12-year-old Faugheen, a stablemate of Melon, was sent off 3/1 favourite and was making ground at the finish to be a length further back in third.
Rich Ricci, whose wife Susannah owns Faugheen, was delighted to see the veteran perform so well.
“That was magic, it was a great race,” said Ricci. “If he’d winged the third last he might have got there but obviously the wind op had worked for Samcro and it’s great for the O’Learys, who put a lot into the game.
“We were in the shop window today but he should that older horses can do it and if the love it, why not?
“Just hearing them say beforehand that the horse won here in 2014 and 2015 and now it’s 2020 and we’re still here – that’s magic.
“I’d imagine he’ll go to Punchestown, I’m sure his Irish fans would love to see him there,” said Ricci.
The horse is a multiple Grade 1 winner and many of his most wins have come at the Punchestown Festival.
Trainer Willie Mullins reflected: “There was a bit of everything there. I thought Melon had won on first look and then on second looks I thought maybe not. Patrick (Mullins) was very happy, he jumped fantastic and gained lengths everywhere.
“Faugheen ran a cracker. He’d done everything right at home and passed his test winning three times in Ireland and there wasn’t any excuse not to bring him back.
“Paul (Townend) felt he made one mistake that cost him any chance he’d had of winning,” said Mullins.
The Punchestown Festival is due to take place from Tuesday 28 April to Saturday 2 May.