‘Living legends’ gains new member as Faugheen joins former racing stars in retirement

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  • Racing legend Faugheen will enjoy his retirement in the company of heroes at the Irish National Stud.

    Susannah and Rich Ricci’s National Hunt star, trained by Willie Mullins, won more than £1.1m in prize money in eight seasons on the track.

    “We are delighted to be welcoming the legendary Faugheen the machine to join our Living Legends for a well-earned retirement,” said a spokesman for the Irish National Stud.

    “He will join old stablemate and fellow Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly as well as Hardy Eustace, Beef Or Salmon, Kicking King and Rite Of Passage.”

    The 13-year-old gelding, bred by the late Dr John Waldron, won his point-to-point at Ballysteen in 2012 for trainer Andrew Slattery and owner Thomas Hassett, who named him after a church in Country Waterford.

    He then joined the Mullins string and Ricci ownership, winning his first 10 starts under Rules, including his Grade One debut in the Novices’ Hurdle at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and both the 2015 Champion Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

    He spent close to two years off the track, owing to injuries, following his victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle in January 2016, marking his return with a win in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November 2017. His final outing was in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, where he finished third.

    In all, he scored 17 wins under Rules in his 26-race career, including 11 Grade One victories.

    Two other stars from the Ricci/Mullins operation were also retired at the same time.

    Eight-time Grade One winner Douvan and star mare Benie Des Dieux, who claimed four Grade One victories during her career, both bowed out of racing following glittering careers.

    Douvan winning at Aintree in 2016.

    Douvan boasts the 2015 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the 2016 Arkle at Cheltenham among his stellar performances in a 13-race winning streak. The 11-year-old gelding had his final run in a Grade Two chase at Clonmel in November 2019, which he won, taking his lifetime racing earnings to more than £609,000.

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    The French-bred Benie Des Dieux, hero of the 2018 Mares’ Hurdle, joined the Mullins string from Ecurie Zingaro in December 2016 and finished in the top three in 14 of her 19 starts under Rules.

    She was first past the post on 11 occasions, including four Grade Ones, and finished second to Honeysuckle when seeking to reclaim her Cheltenham Mares Hurdle title in 2020.

    Plans are being made for Douvan’s retirement, while the 10-year-old Benie Des Dieux (Great Pretender x Robin Des Champs) is set to visit stallion Walk In The Park.

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