Faugheen and Min missing Cheltenham is very disappointing
7 February 2017
Racing UK ambassador Ruby Walsh talks Faugheen, Min, Yorkhill, Douvan, Vroum Vroum Mag and looks ahead to the weekend.
Faugheen and Min:
I had just recorded The Verdict at Racing UK’s studios and I was sat outside with Nick Luck and James Willoughby and a few of the other production lads chatting when I got the phone call.
There is not a whole lot we can do about the injuries that Faugheen and Min have picked up and it is just very disappointing.
They are two very good horses. Faugheen is a championship horse and you want as many of those as you can.
To be honest with you, I thought he was spot on for Leopardstown and I was expecting him to make a full recovery from that. I saw him on Saturday morning doing a canter and he looked fine.
There is always a chance when you work them something can go astray but being an eternal optimist I was just surprised to hear he was out.
Willie [Mullins] said he has suffered a stress fracture to the right-hand ilium bone, but realistically that means the same to me as it does to most of you. I am a jockey and if a horse can’t run, I can’t ride him.
We’ve just got to give Faugheen time to heal. Min has a bruise cannon bone. Technology helps explain injuries more – ten years ago he would have just been lame. He will need several weeks for the injury to come out and go away and at this stage of the season no horse can afford three weeks off.
Training is an art form – if it was a science there would be a formula and everybody could do it. It is a difficult job and it is the line that every trainer walks. A sound horse is a good horse, and it just goes to show how good horses like Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and Hurricane Fly were.
We have to move on and make best with what we have left.
Maybe he has the attributes to win a Champion Hurdle. I haven't discussed it with Willie so I don't know where he will be running at the Festival.
We made a decision earlier in the season to go chasing with him and I'd imagine that's what we will do.
He's not entered in the Champion Hurdle so he would have to be supplemented, and I'd imagine to do that you'd have to be very, very, very, very happy with him.
We did it last year with Annie Power, she was bombing and we thought it was the right thing to do. To do it with Yorkhill, you'd have to be convinced it was the right thing to do.
Of course, Willie said a few weeks back that he hadn't ruled out the idea of going hurdling, maybe next year or whatever, so I honestly don't know - I haven't discussed it with him.
If I was sat on him before the Champion Hurdle then strictly on form, of course I would think he had a good chance.
He's a Tolworth winner and he beat Yanworth in the Neptune last year.
Douvan did not do anything more than he had to do to win on Sunday. He did it well. He looked a million dollars this morning and hopefully everything goes well in five weeks.
All he could have done on Sunday was blot his copy book.
When he had to stand out from his fences he did and he got in there when he had to, also.
He is like driving a really good car – every time you tap the accelerator he goes that bit quicker.
I was asked yesterday by Nick Luck whether he should step up in trip. If you look at human athletes you don’t expect sprinters to step up to 400 metres, or 400-metre runners to step up to 800 metres. Hopefully he will be a champion over two miles and that is what he is very good at.
Vroum Vroum Mag:
She was probably disappointing at Doncaster. She was tough and battled hard to win, but you'd have expected her to do it a bit easier.
You would imagine a defence of her mares' hurdle crown would be the ideal target for her.
Djakadam goes straight for the Gold Cup. He is in great form and hopefully we can make it third time lucky after his defeats to Don Cossack last year and Coneygree the year before that. With Thistlecrack getting beaten at Cheltenham by Many Clouds he now has a few question marks hanging over him but still obviously deserves to be favourite. Djakadam does not have to race against the two horses that beat him in the Gold Cup so you’d have to fancy him against new opposition.
There is a lot going on this weekend at Leopardstown. We have a lot of horses entered in the Grade One Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown and I think we plan to run plenty, with the likes of Chateau Conti, Saturnas and Invitation Only all there.
Bapaume and Meri Devie are also entered in the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle and both look in good order.
Of all my runners this weekend I like Bellshill, who probably runs in Grade One Flogas Novice Chase. He was great at Limerick at Christmas over 2m3 1/2f and should appreciate the step up to 2m5f
Renneti has 11st 12lbs to carry in the Betfair Hurdle, which is a huge weight and with only 20 left in it that would be the smallest field for some time wouldn’t it?