Cheltenham Festival News
Thursday 27th February 2014
Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle

Irish trainer Willie Mullins’ strong team at this year’s Cheltenham Festival includes Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle fancy Faugheen.

© Caroline Norris

The unbeaten hurdler will travel outside of Ireland for the first time in his career next month and is favourite to come out on top of the 2m5f contest.

Mullins won the race for the first time in 2008 with Fiveforthree. A year later he was successful again when Mikael d’Haguenet was victorious.

Faugheen returned to action this season at Punchestown where he jumped an obstacle for the first time in public. He was able to score by over six lengths.

The following month, the six-year old picked up another victory at Navan. Once again, he was a short priced odds-on favourite, but he avoided an upset by scoring ahead of Empire of Dirt.

A step up in class came at Limerick on December 28. Ruby Walsh had commitments elsewhere on that occasion so Emmet Mullins picked up the reigns and rode him to score in a Grade Three over 3m.

Red Sherlock has also done enough this season to establish himself at the top end of the market for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. He was successful in the trial race at Cheltenham in January which gives him solid form for the Festival.

The David Pipe-trained horse opened up at Cheltenham in his season opener in November but in a national hunt flat race.

The five-year old then broke his maiden tag over hurdles a month later at Southwell in a 14 length victory. Another success followed at Wetherby before he landed the Grade Two win at Prestbury Park on his latest run.

Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson’s best chance of winning the novice hurdle contest according to the betting is with Royal Boy who has been popular since he scored at Kempton last month.