Faugheen rolled back the years to add a Grade One triumph over fences to his list of major achievements when winning the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase at Limerick.
Nine times victorious at the top level over the smaller obstacles, the 2015 Champion Hurdle hero showed he was still a formidable force – just days short of turning 12 years old – to lower the colours of another star name in Samcro.
Faugheen enjoyed himself out in front in the hands of Patrick Mullins, but his market rival was never too far away. Tintangle tried to keep tabs on the big two, but fell five fences from the finish, leaving the market principals to fight it out.
They was little between the pair until the second-last fence, where Samcro was put under pressure but could not respond.
Faugheen, trained by Willie Mullins, jumped the last two obstacles in great style and pulled clear to win by 10 lengths. Castlebrook Lad was 22 lengths back in third place.
Mullins was at Kempton to see Footpad finish third in the King George VI Chase – and nominated the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in early February as the likely next target for Faugheen.
He said: “To go toe-to-toe with Samcro over the last six furlongs was very good. He did what he always does, in that he gallops and jumps.
“It is special to win a Grade One over fences with an 11-year-old as very few horses attempt it, but he hasn’t much mileage on the clock and to me it is about mileage rather than age.
“He is well up to it as he is fresh and well, more so than last season.
“Three-mile hurdling is just very hard on horses. Chasing is much easier on him and he is enjoying himself. I’ve not had chance to talk to Patrick yet, but they seemed to get on like a house on fire.”
He added: “We are delighted to get as far as we have with him. We will look forward to the Dublin Racing Festival now, where I’d imagine he will go for the two-mile-five novice chase.
“That will be the race for him and we will just keep it simple.”