WATCH: Bumper crowds flock to Limerick Christmas Racing Festival as Faugheen stars

Colm Kinsella

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella

Email:

ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

WATCH: Bumper crowds flock to Limerick Christmas Racing Festival as Faugheen stars

Faugheen, ridden by Patrick Mullins, jump the last fence on their way to landing the Grade 1 €100,000 Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase at Limerick Racecourse on St Stephen's Day

THE classy Faugheen was the toast of punters on the opening day of the Mr Binman Limerick Christmas Racing Festival after landing the St Stephen's Day feature event at Greenmount Park.

A highly impressive 14,106 patrons thronged the enclosures on the opening day of the four-day National Hunt festival where former Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen added the Grade 1 €100,000 Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase to the glittering array of prizes won over the smaller obstacles.

A nine-time winner over hurdles, 2015 Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen showed he was still a formidable force to lower the colours of another star name in Samcro.

Faugheen, a 2/1 shot before the off, stayed on strongly under winning rider Patrick Mullins, to finish ten lengths clear of the Gordon Elliot-trained 4/6 favourite Samcro, under Jack Kennedy.

As a result of his impressive win, the soon-to-be-12-year-old Faugheen was cut to 7-1 (from 16) for the Marsh Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by bookmakers Paddy Power. 

The opening day attendance figure showed an increase on the 2018 figure of 13,982.

Bookmaker turnover at Greenmount Park on St Stephen's Day was recorded at €274,516, with the Tote returning a figure of €121,321.

Castlemahon, Co Limerick, jockey Mark Enright got the Festival off to the perfect start when landing the day's opening Guinness 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle aboard the Gavin Cromwell-trained 8/1 shot Bajan Excell.

The winner proved one and a half lengths too good for 11/4 favourite Instant Return.

Racing continues at Greenmount Park for the second day of the Mr Binman Limerick Christmas Racing Festival on tomorrow, December, with the opening race at the Patrickswell venue due off at 12.25pm.

Tickets for the Mr Binman Limerick Christmas Racing Festival, including hospitality packages, can be booked on www.limerickraces.ie or by calling 061-320000 or by e-mailing info@limerickraces.ie

See the Limerick Leader for comprehensive coverage of the Limerick Christmas races, both on-line at www.limerickleader.ie and in our print editions