Faugheen was wonderful on Sunday. As enjoyable as the race was to watch, the aftermath was equally as enjoyable. I was standing on the Racing TV podium at Leopardstown, right by the edge of the parade ring.
To see people swarm out of the stands and crowd around the winners enclosure to clap him in from off the racetrack was incredible.
It was magic to watch.
He only jumped ok during the race, but he was very tough, very game. His class got him through in the end. A lot of credit has to go to Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci as it was a brave call to go chasing with an 11-year-old.
Faugheen has had his share of niggles and was pulled up last year with a heart problem. Plenty of people had an opinion on it and didn’t think he should be going chasing.
Willie backed his own judgment and was proven right like I’d seen Paul Nicholls do with Kauto Star all those years ago also.
They’re big calls to make for any trainer.
I was delighted for Willie that it worked out, I was delighted for Faugheen that it worked out and for his jockey Paul Townend as well. It was a big ride on a big weekend – it was great for everyone.
It was wonderful to watch.
It’s funny. People had this idea that Faugheen was a front runner. When he dropped down to two miles over hurdles, I started making the running on him, so people thought he was a front runner.
He wasn’t a front runner as a novice because he was going two-and-a-half miles, but back at two miles I used to make more use of him, because I knew he stayed that trip well, you know?
So people had it in their head that he had one style of racing, but he doesn’t. It didn’t surprise me that he battled back to win. I would have had no doubts on that score with him at any stage.
I don’t know what the future plans are now. At the start of the year Willie was hoping he could get a Grade One race like Sunday’s out of Faugheen. He’s achieved that now.
He’ll have to sit down and think about what he does with him now – but whatever he decides won’t take away from what a special day Sunday was.