Morgiana Hurdle, Sunday, Punchestown - The Return of Faugheen.

I was just looking through previous runnings of the Morgiana Hurdle and seeing if my memory served me correctly as naming Nichols Canyon as the runner that defeated Faugheen when last seen this event in 2015, when I noticed a strange little statistic.

It's not a significant statistic, nor a trend and certainly nothing we can draw any clues from when looking for the 2017 renewal.

It's more of an anomaly in that in the past six renewals, the race has been won by runners of different ages. In so much as the race has not been won by a horse os the same age in the last six years.

Previous Morgiana Hurdle Winners and ages

2011 Thousand Stars 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2012 Hurricane Fly 8 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2013 Hurricane Fly 9 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2014 Hurricane Fly 10 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins
2015 Nichols Canyon 5 David Mullins Willie Mullins
2016 Nichols Canyon 6 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh

What we also note of course is the dominance of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. Mullins looking for a seventh consecutive win, and Walsh looking to make it 6 from seven - hold your breath at the last if he is leading everyone!

Only 2 Runners fall into the 100% days since last outing trend!

Do we look for one with a recent run?

Well, in the last 6 years the answer is a definite no! - Each of the last 6 winners has returned after at least 150 days of the track and been making seasonal reappearances. What is slightly more remarkable is that there have been only 10 runners in those 6 races doing so.

Vroum Vroum Mag
Vroum Vroum Mag

That compares to 17 runners coming into the race off a run within 150 days and not producing a single win between them - in 2017 only 2 runners have not had that outing, and they account for both of the Mullins team in Faugheen and Vroum Vroum Mag. Plainly if Fuagheen has anything like the best to show on Sunday, he will be the one to beat, but he has been off the track for almost two years and will be fully justified if a little ring rusty. Vroum Vroum Mag one might suggest would ideally like further, particularly in this company.

Talking of distance, the Morgiana is run over the 2miles [dont forget the other 40 yards!] And whilst we say VVM might want further, Nichols Canyon had dropped back from 20 furlongs to win this in the last two years so we shouldn't discount her chance completely based on the trip. Only 9, runners [Nichols canyon account for 2 of course], have attempted the drop in trip however. The other four winners, Thousand Stars and legendary Hurricane Fly, were repeating the 2 mile trip from the previous run.

What chance has Jezki got?


Talking of Hurricane Fly, let's not forget that Jezki was favourite for this race in 2014 after success at Cheltenham, and the Fly turned the tables on that day at 15/8. Jezki has a few more miles on the clock now, but the thirst for success still seems to be there. Mrs Harrington's darling will be the alternative choice for many on the day.

Morgiana hurdle fate of the favourites

In another little twist, this means that we have two former beaten favourites of the race lining up on Sunday, Jezki as mentioned above and Faugheen from 2015, when usurped at odds as short as 1/6. You've not had to look outside the top 2 in the betting to find the winner in the 6 years, therefore.

Current Morgiana Hurdle Betting Odds (Paddy Power)


The first two in the betting isn't clear on Friday night as I write with the exception of Faugheen who will clearly be sent off favourite. Campeador is in competition for that 2ndfav spot right now

Representing Gordon Elliot, Campeador is a less than frequent visitor to the race course. The 5yo has few miles on the clock and fewer wins to be fair. Fourth to apples jade on debut at Leopardstown on boxing day 2015, he fell in the Fred Winter at the following Cheltenham festival and di so against last December at Fairyhouse. A win over course and distance last month has put him back on track but it looks adventurous to be following these odds. The best of those behind on that day were 142 rated Wakea and Hidden Cyclone, who didn't look ready for the outing.

There has been no mention of Swamp Fox as yet, but whilst none can be written off entirely, the Murphy runner will need more than one of these to be performing below par to have any chance.

Summary and Morgiana Hurdle Betting Tip

When backing odds on favourites is not your thing, this becomes a tricky event to pick a bet for. But all things considered and taking emotion out of the betting decision [very imporant], let's break this down...
  • Faugheen off the track for 2 years, and we've no idea how good he is [Will he even run?]
  • Jezki, a top performer and still has some class, but his best is behind him for sure and there are some serious miles on the clock now
  • Vroum Vroum Mag, Arguably want further although good enough to win a Champion hurdle here in the past
  • Campeador, young, potential improvement, but known form doesn't convince
  • Swamp Fox will need a few of these if not all to have problems

Everything revolves around Faugheen. No prizes for tipping him up, and if he is as good as he once was, the race is his to lose, but I feel we will get a better feel with VROUM VROUM MAG who can take advantage of a pair that are probably past their best.
Either way, the man below may yet still have the last laugh.

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rich ricci