Ricci Big Three withdrew
Owner Rich Ricci has announced the resignation of three of his horse superstars in Faugheen, Douvan and Benie Des Dieux.
Faugheen, in particular, is set to be one of the most popular national hunt horses of modern times, with the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle, the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown and two consecutive wins at the Kempton Christmas Hurdle CV.
It looked like his racing career might end in the spring of 2019 after it was discovered he had a heart problem while pulling away in the Aintree Hurdle.
However, the decision to embark on a career over fences at the age of 11 the following season proved to be a masterpiece of coach Willie Mullins. Faugheen won his first three car chases, including a memorable first class win at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival.
He was beaten only a length to third when he competed for a third success at the Cheltenham Festival on a throbbing renewal of the Marsh Novices’ Chase last March – and while ties tried to get it back, this proved to be his last Excursion.
Ricci, who owns Faugheen in partnership with his wife Susannah, told The Sun: “Faugheen meant a lot to Susannah, our son George and me. He was also my nephew Peter’s favorite horse and the impetus to fall in love with the sport.
“Not always the most elegant on a hurdle or a fence, he was a Trier and knew he was a guy.
“My favorite memory was his chase win at the 2020 Dublin Racing Festival. The noise and sprinting of the crowd to the parade ring was something I will never forget.
“We were blessed to have had some special horses, but Faugheen will always have a special place among them.”
In total, Faugheen won 17 of his 26 career starts and raised over £ 1 million in winnings and prize money.
Ricci also confirmed that Douvan and Benie Des Dieux also contested their last races.
Douvan won his first 13 appearances for Mullins, including Cheltenham on the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy.
It was a defeated favorite in the 2017 Queen Mother Chase, however, and has run only three times since then, most recently as the 2019 Clonmel Oil Chase winner.
Benie Des Dieux meanwhile won eight of their ten starts for the all-conquering team, with her most notable triumphs being the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil.
She fell on the last flight when she was apparently ready to successfully defend her Mares’ Hurdle title in 2019 and was just touched by the brilliant honeysuckle when she asked to reclaim her crown last year.