Stan James Champion Hurdle
|Grade 1, Cheltenham 15:20
2m 110y, Class 1
|Tuesday 10th March 2015|
1 Faugheen 4/5
2 Arctic Fire 20/1
3 Hurricane Fly 8/1
8 ran Distances: 1½l, 5l, 1¾l
TIME 3m 50.90s (fast by 0.10s)
Willie Mullins gets the 1-2-3 in the Champion Hurdle
Unbeaten hurdler Faugheen gave trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh their third winner of the day when running out a commanding winner of the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The 4/5 favourite was always travelling powerfully under Walsh and, when asked for his effort turning for home, the reaction was instant as the seven-year-old skipped up the hill to record a one and a half length victory from his fast-finishing stablemate Arctic Fire.
Faugheen's victory stretched his unbeaten run to nine and gives Mullins and Walsh an 8/1 treble on the card so far.
Walsh has always had faith in Faugheen and opted to ride him in the race over dual Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly, who finished a further five lengths back in third, giving Mullins an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the race. Trainer Aidan O'Brien trained the first two home in 1998 and 1999 when Theatreworld chased home the mighty Istabraq.
"It was a massive decision not to ride Hurricane Fly," said Walsh.
"I knew that he was in great nick but a lot of the credit goes to John Codd (who looks after Faugheen at home). He is a wonderful horse, he has jumped better - he missed the second last.
"I know the betting reflected that I was always going to ride Faugheen but when you are in a stable like Willie's and you see what Hurricane Fly is doing at home, it is still a big call to make and get off him.
"This is an incredible little horse, a fine horse. He was awkward at the second last but pinged the last and saw it out well.
"He is definitely not slow and no-one else wanted to make it so I was only going to go my fractions in front - I wasn't going to go theirs. He's got such a good turn of foot though. This is probably the best feel I've ever had from him - it was certainly his biggest challenge facing all these good horses.
"It's some training performance to have the 1-2-3 and a 1-2 in the Supreme. It's a great place to work and the man's a genius. He has a great team of staff around him and it's brilliant to be part of it."
Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
£400,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 110y, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft, Good in places
|1st||Faugheen (IRE) 4/5f||R Walsh
|W P Mullins||7|
|2nd||1½||Arctic Fire (GER) 20/1||D E Mullins
|W P Mullins||6|
|3rd||5||Hurricane Fly (IRE) 8/1||P Townend
|W P Mullins||11|
|4th||1¾||Jezki (IRE) 6/1||A P McCoy
|Mrs J Harrington||7|
|5th||½||The New One (IRE) 10/3||S Twiston-Davies
|N A Twiston-Davies||7|
|6th||1||Kitten Rock (FR) 28/1||N D Fehily
|E J O'Grady||5|
|7th||6||Bertimont (FR) 100/1||Harry Skelton
|8th||12||Vaniteux (FR) 25/1||B J Geraghty
|N J Henderson||6|
Mullins and Walsh's front-running plan pays off
Willie Mullins, who trained the first three home in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, an unprecedented feat, and who was winning his third race of the afternoon, said: "Ruby [Walsh] told me about a month ago what he was going to do and how he was going to do it - and he did it.
"We looked at the race and we thought no one probably wanted to make it, and Ruby just thought it might be the thing to do. I was happy once he was happy to do it. There didn't seem to be a potential front-runner. In championship races, it's always hard to get a front-runner and if you are brave enough to do it, why not?
"I wasn't concerned at any stage, I thought he was well in control all the time.
Talking about the unbeaten seven-year-old Faugheen, who was bred in Ireland by Dr John Waldron by Germany out of an Accordian mare and who is owned by Rich Ricci, Mullins said:
"He's young, he's improving, he's coming on and what can I say, he's got a long way to go to be as good as Hurricane Fly. He probably won't jump a fence. When you've got a good hurdler like this there's no reason to go novice chasing."
About second-placed Arctic Fire: "Arctic Fire is a horse we know is improving and I don't think I still have him fit yet, which is incredible but I still can't see a rib on him."
Hurricane Fly, running for the fifth time in a race he has won twice: "Hurricane Fly ran a terrific race, I thought he was going to get right into it at the second-last. I think Paul [Townend] was very happy and I was happy how he ran - no disgrace."
Jezki and New One teams take defeat on the chin
While trainer Willie Mullins was marching triumphantly into the winner's enclosure to greet the first three in today's Stan James Champion Hurdle, there were no celebrations for connections of Jezki (fourth) and The New One (fifth).
Jezki, the winner last year and a final mount in the race for retiring A P McCoy, is trained by Jessica Harrington, who said: "A P was blaming himself, saying he took on [winner] Faugheen at the top of the hill, and in chasing the winner it probably cost him second or third and he finished fourth. He got to the winner's quarters and he just took off.
"If he had ridden him to be second to Faugheen he may have been second. We'll go back to the drawing board and see how he comes home. There's Punchestown and he doesn't have to travel for that which is great. I've never given a thought to sending him chasing.
"I always thought a lot of Faugheen and he was very good - he did it the hard way and made all the running. I can't name the last horse to do that in a Champion Hurdle.
"It's amazing that Willie Mullins has trained the first three, but it just shows how hard it is to win any race in Ireland."
Sam Twiston-Davies, who rode The New One, said: "I don't really think he was himself today and hopefully we can get him a lot better. He was awkward and not an easy ride - that's not like him. The winner is very good, but our fellow is better than you saw today. I thought if I threw him at the second-last he might power round the bend, but he didn't produce anything, which makes you think he wasn't quite right."
The jockey's father, Nigel, who trains The New One, said: "I'm disappointed, because it didn't seem like him. He finished a lot closer last year when he made a mistake. We'll keep going and look at Aintree next month, then come back here next year. He's not blowing and I've no idea what the problem was, but he didn't seem himself."
CHAMPION HURDLE PREVIOUS RESULTS
2014-WINNER-JEZKI 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/1
2ND-My Tent Or Yours 7-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-3/1
3RD-The New One 6-11-10 Owner-Sarah Such; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Sam Twiston-Davies; SP-10/3
9 ran, Time-3m 45.25s (new record); Dist-nk, 2½ 11/4 Fav Hurricane Fly (4th)
2013-WINNER- HURRICANE FLY 9-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-13/8 Fav
2ND-Rock On Ruby 8-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Harry Fry; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/2
3RD-Countrywide Flame 5-11-10 Owner-Estio Pinnacle Racing; Trainer-John Quinn; Jockey-Denis O’Regan; SP-16/1
9 ran, Time-3m 59.35s; Dist-2½, 1¾
2012-WINNER-ROCK ON RUBY 7-11-10 Owner-The Festival Goers; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Noel Fehily; SP-11/1
2ND-Overturn 8-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-20/1
3RD-Hurricane Fly 8-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-4/6 Fav
10 ran, Time-3m 50.10s; Dist 3¾, 1¾
2011-WINNER-HURRICANE FLY 7-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Mrs Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/4 Fav
2ND-Peddlers Cross 6-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-9/2
3RD-Oscar Whisky 6-11-10 Owner- Walters Plant Hire Ltd; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
11 ran, Time-3m 53.71s; Dist 11⁄4 , 5
2010-WINNER-BINOCULAR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-9/1
2ND-Khyber Kim 8-11-10 Owner-Caroline Mould; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-7/1
3RD-Zaynar 5-11-10 Owner- Men In Our Position; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist-3½, 6 11/4 Fav Go Native (10th)
2009-WINNER-PUNJABI 6-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-22/1
2ND-Celestial Halo 5-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-17/2
3RD-Binocular 5-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-6/4 Fav
23 ran, Time-4m 0.90s; Dist- nk, hd
2008-WINNER-KATCHIT 5-11-10 Owner-D S J P Syndicate; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-10/1
2ND-Osana 6-11-10 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-9/2
3RD-Punjabi 5-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-25/1
15 ran, Time-4m 8.10s; Dist-1, 5 2/1 Fav Sizing Europe (14th)
2007-WINNER-SUBLIMITY 7-11-10 Owner-Bill Hennessy; Trainer-John Carr IRE; Jockey-Philip Carberry; SP-16/1
2ND-Brave Inca 9-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/2
3RD-Afsoun 5-11-10 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-28/1
10 ran, Time-3m 55.70s; Dist-3, nk 6/4 Fav Detroit City (6th)
2006-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 8-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/4 Fav
2ND-Macs Joy 7-11-10 Owner-Mac’s J Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-13/2
3RD-Hardy Eustace 9-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-11/2
18 ran. Time-3m 50.00s; Dist-1, 3½
2005-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 8-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-
7/2 Jt Fav
2ND-Harchibald 6-11-10 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD-Brave Inca 7-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Cash; SP-10/1
14 ran, Time-3m 51.50s; Dist-nk, nk 7/2 Jt Fav Back In Front (9th)
2004-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 7-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
2ND-Rooster Booster 10-11-10 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Intersky Falcon 7-11-10 Owner-Interskyracing.com & Jacqui O’Neill; Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Liam Cooper; SP-8/1
14 ran, Time-3m 54.50s; Dist-5, 4
2003-WINNER-ROOSTER BOOSTER 9-12-00 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-9/2
2ND-Westender 7-12-00 Owner-Matt Archer & Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Rodi Greene; SP-33/1
3RD-Rhinestone Cowboy 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/2
Fav 17 ran, Time-3m 54.70s; Dist-11, 3
2002-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 7-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-10/1
2ND-Marble Arch 6-12-00 Owner-Martin Wilson, Rory Sweet and Mary Wilson; Trainer-Hughie Morrison; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-25/1
3RD-Bilboa 5-11-09 Owner-Jorg Vasicek; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-14/1
15 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist- 3, ½ 2/1 Fav Istabraq (pu)
2000-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 8-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/15 Fav
2ND-Hors La Loi III 5-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-11/1
3RD-Blue Royal 5-12-00 Owner-Lynn Wilson; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-16/1
12 ran, Time-3m 48.10s; Dist-4, nk
1999-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/9 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-16/1 3RD-French Holly 8-12-00 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-11/2
14 ran, Time 3m 56.7s; Dist-3½, 2½
1998-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 6-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-3/1 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 6-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-20/1
3RD-I’m Supposin 6-12-00 Owner-Nicholas Cooper; Trainer-Richard Rowe; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
18 ran, Time 3m 49.1s; Dist-12, 1
1997-WINNER-MAKE A STAND 6-12-00 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Theatreworld 5-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-33/1
3RD-Space Trucker 6-12-00 Owner-Elaine Queally; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-John Shortt; SP-9/2
17 ran, Time-3m 48.4s, Dist-5, ¾ 7/2 Fav Large Action (pu)
1996-WINNER-COLLIER BAY 6-12-00 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Jim Old; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-9/1
2ND-Alderbrook 7-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-10/11 Fav
3RD-Pridwell 6-12-00 Owner-Jones, Berstock and Fleet Partnership; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Chris Maude;
SP-33/1 16 ran, Time-3m 59.0s, Dist-2½, 6
1995-WINNER-ALDERBROOK 6-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-11/2
2ND-Large Action 7-12-00 Owner-Brian Stewart-Brown; Trainer-Oliver Sherwood; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
3RD-Danoli 7-12-00 Owner-Dan O’Neill; Trainer-Tom Foley IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
14 ran, Time-4m 03.1s, Dist-5, 2