Willie Mullins content with Faugheen and to target Yorkhill at Champion Chase

Mon 15 Jan 2018

By staff

Willie Mullins is hoping Faugheen can still bid to regain the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on February 3 - despite being pulled up at the same track over Christmas.

The 10-year-old was the odds-on favourite for the Ryanair Hurdle but was pulled up with two to jump after dropping away tamely, leaving connections mystified.

Mullins and his team conducted a series of tests and report the 2015 Champion Hurdle hero in good form.

The County Carlow trainer said: "We are as happy as can be expected with him. All his tests have come back fine.

"The next step up is to do a little bit of fast work this week and if he passes that test we will be aiming at the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle.

"We have been minding him and last week we gave him a slow canter. We'll move up a gear this week."

Faugheen could be joined in the race by stablemate Melon at Leopardstown on February 3, though the latter was not put through his paces on Monday morning.

"He was unable to work because he lost a shoe and the blacksmith wasn't here to put a shoe back on," said Mullins. "He's fine and I'd like to run him in the BHP as well."

Melon Ltown 8 Melon is on course to run in the Irish Champion Hurdle (PA)

Douvan is back in light training but Mullins believes it is too early to say whether the star two-mile chaser will run this season.

The Rich Ricci-owned eight-year-old has not been seen since he sustained a pelvic injury when suffering a shock defeat in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last March.

He had been set to reappear in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December but was not declared, with Mullins reporting he had not been totally happy with him in the days before the race. 

He subsequently ruled him out for the entire campaign, but Mullins said: "He's back cantering and we are doing that for a few weeks to see how he progresses. We will take things slowly.

"I don't know and I don't want to say what the chances are of him running this season.

"There was an injury there and whether that was an old injury or not he hurt himself for a few days.

"What surprised us all was his recovery, how quick it was, and then our veterinary team started looking at him from another angle and were thinking that there was a little chance (of him running again this season)."

2017 Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Thursday - Cheltenham Racecourse Yorkhill is to revert to two miles over fences (PA)

Yorkhill was disappointing in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase - his first try for Mullins over three miles - and is now set to drop back down in trip for the Coral Dublin Chase on February 3.

Mullins said: "We will go down the two-mile chase route and if that doesn't work we will go back to hurdling.

"I'm happy for him to go for the Coral Dublin Chase, and I don't think there is much alternative."

Min, who crossed the line first in a Grade One over Christmas but was demoted by the stewards, is another contender for the Dublin Chase.

"He's in great shape and came out of his race over Christmas at Leopardstown well," said Mullins.

Bachasson is enjoying a few weeks off after winning at Tramore on New Year's Day.

The grey has now won his last three chases, the last two at Listed level, but as the ground was very testing at Tramore connections are in no rush to get him out again.

Colm O'Connell, who owns the horse with his father, Edward, said on Monday: "He had a hard race in Tramore - the ground was bottomless.

Bachasson Tramore 4 Bachasson will have multiple entries at Cheltenham (PA)

"I'd say he might be off for a few weeks. Graded company will suit him now but he seems to be better with a good break between his races.

"We might look at something in the middle of February but if we're keen to take him to Cheltenham we'll probably avoid that and take him straight to Cheltenham.

"Cheltenham is an option, as is the two-and-a-half-mile race at Aintree (Melling Chase) - that might be the one.

"I'm just delighted he's back on the right track as I've been telling people for two years how good he is, yet he hasn't really shown it.

"He'll have multiple entries at Cheltenham. He's in the Ryanair and Gold Cup but whether he goes, I don't know."

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