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Leading owner Rich Ricci remains hopeful Faugheen will bid to regain his crown in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old was a brilliant winner of the two-mile (3200m) showpiece in 2015, but was sidelined for the best part of two years after landing the Irish Champion Hurdle in January 2016.

He appeared to have lost none of his brilliant ability when he reappeared in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, but was pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown last Friday and his performance still has connections scratching their heads.

“Barring anything popping up of a more serious nature this week, absolutely. I think we’ll crack on,” Ricci told talkSPORT2.

“Whether he goes to the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in the first week of February, or whether he’ll go straight to Cheltenham, I don’t know, but our intention at the moment is to crack on.

“He was fine after the race. We’ve gotten him home. He’s normal. Everything’s fine, which is good news. He’s not lame. There are no leg issues.

“I’m just hoping that in the next day or two something comes out where he’s been incubating a cold. I think that would be the best-case scenario.”

 
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