By Marcus Townend for the Daily Mail
Published: 19:53 GMT, 2 February 2020 | Updated: 19:53 GMT, 2 February 2020
Willie Mullins described Faugheen's victory in the Grade Flogas Novice Chase as one of the most rewarding of his career as the veteran gelding drew a reception which electrified day two of the Dublin Racing Festival.
Gordon Elliott-trained Delta Work cemented his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims with a professional defeat of Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup but it was Faugheen who stole the show prompting wild celebrations previously reserved for Irish equine favourites like 1990 folk hero Danoli.
After favourite Battleoverdoyen fell at the last after finally losing out in his tussle for the lead, Faugheen then had to see off the potent challenge of stablemate Easy Game by half a length.
Faugheen and Paul Townend celebrate a win in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown
It was a 17th career win, 11 at grade one level, for the Paul Townend-ridden 12-year-old and 2015 Champion Hurdle winner who career has been punctuated by injury.
Mullins whose Asterion Forlonge is 5-1 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle after his win in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle, said: 'This was special. It was a proper grade one test. He has a huge attitude to racing. I thought our other horse was going to beat him but he dug deep. I wanted to win in a big way. I would have been gutted if he had been beaten.
'Last year he had physical problems and he came back and he has put three runs together now. To come back at his age and do it on the No 1 stage is special.'
Owner Rich Ricci hailed his winner and added that a Cheltenham Festival challenge, considered unlikely at the start of the season for the latecomer to novice chasing who has now won his three chase starts, is now possible.
It was a 17th career win, 11 at grade one level for the 12-year-old, Peter Townend-ridden geldingsonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa