Faugheen Champion hopes for Ricci
Faugheen is being backed by leading owner Rich Ricci to feature in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham despite his recent problem.
The 10-year-old 2015 Champion Hurdle winner has been sidelined for almost two years after winning the January 2016 Irish Champion Hurdle.
Trainer Willie Mullins pitched him back into action in November for the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown and was rewarded with an impressive victory.
However, Faugheen was pulled up in his most recent appearance in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown last Friday which has placed more question marks against his fitness.
But Ricci spoke out to insist that the plan is still to take Faugheen to Cheltenham for the two-mile showpiece in mid-March.
He told talkSPORT2: "Barring anything popping up of a more serious nature this week, absolutely. I think we'll crack on.
"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."
Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.