Willie Mullins is keen to send 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen novice chasing this term.
Having been tempted in the past, Mullins has always kept the 11-year-old to the smaller obstacles, but after pulling up at Aintree in April, the popular veteran could turn his hand to a new discipline this season.
Speaking in a stable tour for attheraces.com, Mullins said: “We gave him a break over the summer and he seems back in great order. We have yet to sit down and make a firm decision, but I’d be keen to send him novice chasing.
“We could have gone over fences with him last season, but we decided not to. He would have loads of options in novice chases and I’d be interested to see how he gets on over them.”
Among a plethora of top-class hurdlers going chasing for Mullins this season is the smart mare Laurina, who lost her unbeaten record for the yard in the Champion Hurdle when only fourth.
“We have decided to send her novice chasing. She’s a fine, big mare that always looked a chaser in physical terms, so we are very excited to see her jumping them,” he said.
“We’ve been very happy with her schooling over fences to date, she makes a very good shape over them. She is a much more mentally mature mare now than she was in her early days with me and she seems to be getting better all the time.
“We’ll start her off once there is a good cut in the ground.”
Melon, Allaho and Carefully Selected are also joining the novice chase ranks.
Among the established chasers looking to back up fine campaigns are Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo and Kemboy, who beat his stablemate at Punchestown after which Ruby Walsh announced his immediate retirement.
Al Boum Photo will be back out when the ground is soft enough, while Kemboy could head to Down Royal on Saturday week.
“We’ll more than likely give him a similar campaign to what we did with him last season. The Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal next week is a potential starting point for him, but we’ll make a call on that closer to the time,” said Mullins.
Douvan is back in work and Un De Sceaux continues to impress Mullins with his enthusiasm, while Chacun Pour Soi could be a new flagbearer.
“He’s in great order and looks one for the two-mile chase division. He has been tricky to train over the years, but he is very good at the minute,” said Mullins of the latter.
“What he did last season was very promising indeed. His performance at Punchestown against more experienced and accomplished rivals was particularly impressive I thought.
“You’d have to hope he could improve enough to be a Queen Mother Champion Chase contender.”