A 70-year-old GP from Tuam will notice his own heart rate rise significantly at around 3.30pm next Tuesday afternoon. Dr John Waldron has a very special connection to the Champion Hurdle antepost favourite Faugheen, as he bred the seven-year-old gelding.
The Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen boasts an impressive unbeaten record which includes wins in a point-to-point and a bumper before a career over hurdles led to a stunning victory in the Neptune Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Following on from that, he hosed up in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown and the success has continued this season with victories across the water at Ascot and Kempton. He has been described in racing terms as a ‘machine’ and heads to the Cotswolds next week at prohibitive odds of a little more than even money.
Faugheen is by a sire called Germany and his mother is the Waldron owned mare Miss Pickering. The unraced mare had a strong bloodline as she was the daughter of leading National Hunt sire Accordion. She was named after the colourful master of the North Galway foxhounds, the late John Pickering. Unsurprisingly he is by far the most successful horse bred by the Tuam doctor. He foaled in May 2008 and is described by his breeder as being a ‘beautiful young horse, which would really catch the eye’.
The horse was sold as a foal at Tattersalls for a mere €4,000, he later returned to the sales ring at Goffs as a three year old, fetching €12,000 before being acquired by millionaire owner Rich Ricci in 2012, whose famous colours he now runs. Dr Waldron says when Faugheen was a youngster, the sire Germany was not seen as ‘fashionable’ at the time. More famous names had the ability to attract big money bids. But as Faugheen has proved, the deceased Germany had the ability to sire a superstar.
So the million dollar question; Is there any chink in Faugheen’s armour ofris the wonder horse unbeatable? He has certainly looked like a machine thus far, but there is no doubt that the Champion Hurdle is his stiffest task to date. However his breeder retains the utmost faith in his progeny and is full of confidence about the antepost favourite. “I can’t see him being beaten. I backed him earlier in the year at 4/1.”
Betting matters aside, if Faugheen powers up that famous Cheltenham hill in front on Tuesday, there will not be a prouder man in Ireland.
But if one was inclined to have a punt, what is his advice to prospective gamblers. “Have the house on him.”
Well it is as simple as that.