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Faugheen fails to impress in Cheltenham Festival build-up
From Barry Redmond: February 2018

Supasundae trumped Faugheen in a real upset at Leopardstown in February, a result that had a real impact on the early betting for this year's Cheltenham Festival. Despite going off an odds-on favourite, Willie Mullins' star finished second behind his rival, beaten 2 lengths.

All the talk going to post concerned Faugheen, punters expecting the gifted 10-year-old to lay down a marker for the year ahead, but at the finish there was only one horse on the minds of racing fans - Supasundae.

Source: Timeform via Twitter

Jessica Harrington's eight-year-old gelding, a product of the great Galileo, went off an 8/1 also-ran in the grade one Irish Champion Hurdle, contested over two miles on soft ground, but there was plenty of smart money riding on his chances and he delivered for those who kept faith. What made that result all the more impressive was the fact it was achieved despite a mistake at the business end of the contest. Faltering three out, jockey Robbie Power was called into action, asking his mount to respond, and respond he did.

Pushed along, Supasundae rallied, challenging Faugheen on the run in and getting the better of his foe, staying on well towards the flag to bank the prize money. Traders certainly appear to have been won over and following that result they've cut him to 7/2 favourite for the Stayers Hurdle, run on the Thursday of the Cheltenham Festival.

Sam Spinner rates as the main danger in that race, chalked up as a 9/2 second favourite, with Apples Jade making up the top three. Winning at Prestbury Park is nothing new to Supasundae either, let's not forget, having claimed the Coral Cup last year, again at a monster price, beating Taquin Du Seuil by a couple of lengths.

The news isn't as promising for those who wish to stay loyal to Faugheen, the star budged out to 16/1 for the Stayers Hurdle. It's unlikely connections will aim him at that race, the Champion Hurdle a more likely target but, again, oddsmakers don't appear to be in a forgiving mood.

Those keeping an eye on ante-post horse racing betting will find Faugheen an 8/1 second favourite for the title, behind Buveur Dair. The latter, sharpened by Nicky Henderson, won 11 of his first 14 outings, including victory in the Contenders Hurdle over one mile seven furlongs at Sandown in early February.

An SP 1/16 tells its own story, but the jolly must be given the credit he deserves for getting the job done, leaving nearest finisher John Constable 1 3/4 lengths behind. Another who needed reminders in the latter stages to keep his mind on the job - perhaps finding it all too easy - but those keeping a close eye on Buveur Dair's progress with March in mind would've been delighted with the response they got.

A glittering 2017 included wins at the Cheltenham Festival, bagging the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy before going on to win the Aintree Hurdle, slapping down My Tent Or Yours and The New One.



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