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CHELTENHAM LEGENDS: Faugheen, Douvan and Benie Des Dieux all confirmed to be retired

Popular trio Faugheen, Douvan and Benie Des Dieux were all retired on Friday evening

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Faugheen ridden by Ruby Walsh on their way to victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy

Rich Ricci trio and former Cheltenham Festival stars Faugheen, Douvan and Benie Des Dieux were all retired on Friday evening, their owner confirmed.

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The Willie Mullins trained three, who shared six Festival victories between them, stated in an exclusive interview with The Sun that the Closutton representatives had seen the last of the racecourse and would begin to enjoy life in retirement.

Trainer Willie Mullins after Turban won the Underwriting Exchange Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Steeplechase at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Ratoath, Ireland.
Willie Mullins’ Closutton stable bid farewell to the infamous Rich Ricci trio this weekend

Ricci paid homage to his legendary, particularly to Faugheen, often dubbed “The Machine” by his merry band of loyal followers.

“Faugheen meant a lot to Susannah, our son George and me”, he said.

WATCH: FAUGHEEN’S FINEST HOUR WAS WHEN HE WON THE CHAMPION HURDLE IN 2015 [CREDIT: RACING TV]

“He was also the favourite horse of my nephew Peter and was the impetus of his falling in love with the sport.

“Not always the most elegant at a hurdle or a fence, he was a trier and knew he was a dude.

Winning owner Rich Ricci (left) with jockey Paul Townend and trainer Willie Mullins in the parade ring after Faugheen wins the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle during day two of the Winter Festival at Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare

“We have been blessed to have owned some special horses but Faugheen will always have a special place amongst them.”

The son of Germany won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle back in 2014 before dropping back to two-miles to win the Champion Hurdle twelve months later.

WATCH: THE FINAL VICTORY FOR FAUGHEEN WAS A TITANIC DUEL WITH EASY GAME IN THE GRADE 1 FLOGAS NOVICE CHASE IN FEBRUARY 2020 [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Douvan, meanwhile, was an emphatic winner of both the Supreme and Arkle, while Benie Des Dieux secured the Mares’ Hurdle in 2018.

Douvan retires having won 14 of his 17 starts, including at two Cheltenham Festival’s

Paul Townend, who enjoyed multiple successes on the stable-star’s, paid his own tribute.

He told the Racing Post: “All three were very special for me at different times in my career because I managed to get on them to win a big Grade 1 at some point.

WATCH: BENIE DES DIEUX WINS THE 2019 MARES CHAMPION HURDLE AT PUNCHESTOWN UNDER PAUL TOWNEND [CREDIT: RACING TV]

“I have never experienced anything like the reception Faugheen got at Leopardstown for winning the Flogas. He was special and it was the first time I saw a crowd go absolutely wild for a horse.

“We have had some great days down the years with Hurricane Fly, who always got a fantastic reception, but Ruby was usually riding him and by the time he had made his way back to the parade ring I would be back in the weighing room.

WPG583 A view of Cheltenham Racecourse and Cheltenham Spa from Cleeve Hill, England
The trio retire having shared successes in six Cheltenham Festival contests

“Faugheen was special for me for that reason and the reception he got at Leopardstown showed the appreciation people had for him and what he achieved.”

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.

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