Willie Mullins will not rush any decisions on the future for Faugheen after he was pulled up behind shock winner Mick Jazz in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner was sidelined for the best part of two years after a stunning performance in the 2016 Irish Champion Hurdle, but appeared to have lost none of his ability when dominating his rivals on his much anticipated return in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month.
He was prohibitively priced at 2-11 to stretch his Grade One tally to nine on the final day of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, but after adopting his customary pacesetting role, he weakened to the rear of the five-runner field on the run to the second-last flight and Paul Townend swiftly took him out of the race.
Townend soon dismounted and Faugheen returned to the racecourse stables by horse ambulance, but little over an hour later Mullins was still at a loss to explain what had happened.
“At the moment Faugheen is sound. He pulled up sound and the vets have passed him fine. He’s not abnormal and not distressed,” Mullins said.
“Paul said he just felt very lacklustre over the first few furlongs and he definitely wasn’t himself.
“I’m sure something will arise. He might be incubating a cold or something like that, but at the moment we don’t have any evidence of anything.”
It has been a challenging few days for the champion trainer, with Faugheen’s defeat following the disappointing displays of Yorkhill and Djakadam and Nichols Canyon’s fatal fall on Thursday.