Top 10 Most Popular Horses: Faugheen finishes 4th

Top 10 Most Popular Horses of the 21st Century: #4 Faugheen
Top 10 Most Popular Horses of the 21st Century: #4 Faugheen

As we enter the business end of our Top 10 Most Popular Horses of the 21st Century, we move onto the horse that just missed out on a place in the top three… 

When compiling the list for the Top 10 Most Popular horses, the biggest problem was where to place this guy. A horse that has crossed generations, staged an incredible comeback and captured the hearts of thousands - there was a case to put him in the top three. But just missing out and taking the fourth-place spot is the mighty Faugheen, an icon of National Hunt Racing for the 2010s.

A true titan of the game, Faugheen was first seen on a racecourse in early 2013 after winning his point-to-point, and went on to have a career that spanned seven seasons and saw him scoop 11 Grade 1 wins in the process, including latterly over fences. Such is his longevity as a top horse despite his injuries, Faugheen is often associated with the Rich Ricci ‘Golden era’, a time where those iconic pale pink and green polkadot silks sat at the top of the market for most major Grade 1s. Douvan, Vautour, Annie Power, Vroum Vroum Mag, Djakadam, Faugheen - the 2014 era really was quite special for Ricci and Mullins.

A look at the 2020 Ricci battalion makes for slightly more disappointing reading when compared to those glory days, but one name pops up again. Beanie Des Dieux, Min, Monkfish, Chacun Pour Soi, Sharjah, Faugheen. The machine still in working order after all that time.

After going on a 10 race unbeaten run from his debut for Mullins in 2013, winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle, the Christmas Hurdle, Champion Hurdle and Punchestown Champion Hurdle (All Grade 1s) in doing so, many thought Faugheen was to long rein over the division and sweep up every Grade 1 available to him. It wasn’t until November 2015 when he suffered his first career defeat as the 1/6f, being beaten by stablemate Nichols Canyon in the Morgiana Hurdle, though a swift bounce back to form with a second Christmas Hurdle win followed by a jaw-dropping 15-length Irish Champion Hurdle success in late January showed this was just a blip and all roads lead to a defence of his Champion Hurdle crown.

However this is where the tide would turn for Faugheen, frustrating as it was but with hindsight part of his charm now. Just one month before the Cheltenham Festival it was announced Faugheen had picked up a suspensory ligament injury that would rule him out for the season. Although at the time described as nothing major, and only about an eight week recovery phase, constant complications with bruising and fractures along the way meant we didn't see Faugheen for a whopping 665 days. The months rolled by and new stars were born, and we were all sat wondering if we’d ever see Faugheen again, until it was announced he would return in November 2017 for the Morgiana Hurdle. 

Despite 22 months off the course, The machine showed us why he adopts that particular moniker, winning the Grade 1 by an easy 16-lengths on heavy going. A spectacular achievement with the absence considered. Despite this easy success, Faugheen showed us that his age and time off the course had stripped him of some of his superstardom he once flaunted so brilliantly, as his form for the year after the Morginana win reading P261. Still a brilliant year by all accounts, two Grade 1 wins with one of them a stunning success in the Irish Stayers' Hurdle and a Grade 1 second, but a 6th in the Champion Hurdle was a disappointing result for the now 10-year-old and no one would have begrudged him his retirement at this point.

But again he returned, for his 10/11-year-old season to try and add to that tally of nine Grade 1s. By this stage, the old boy who had bounced back from a two-year lay off was firmly a fan favourite, so seeing him fail to win a race for the first time in a season that year had all but swayed the public to call for his retirement. Second in the Morgiana, a horrible fall in the Irish Champion Hurdle (Which caused great fear at Leopardstown that day), third in the Stayers’ Hurdle, pulled up in the Aintree Hurdle. It just had not fallen for Faugheen and the fright he had given his thousands of fans when falling and pulling up was enough - Faugheen had to be retired. Nothing else to prove, deserves his time in the field etc. etc, all the usual stuff that I myself was guilty of saying a number of times.

So imagine the shock when, in October 2019, it was announced that 11 soon to be 12-year-old Faugheen was to embark on a Novice Chase career that season. A what? A Novice Chase career at age 11? It sounded absolutely bonkers, and was met with plenty of uproar too, had he not done enough?

Well clearly, no. See Faugheen is that sort of horse who no matter the challenge in front of him, or his ever increasing age, absolutely adored his job - and was bloody brilliant at it too. 

On the 16th November 2019, Faugheen made his seasonal reappearance after 226 days off the course to contest a Beginners Chase as the 8/11 favourite and looked immediately at home, winning by seven-and-a-half lengths. If it wasn’t for injury, maybe this was the Faugheen we were meant to see all those years ago, a chasing star as well as a master over hurdles.

Stats Template_1

Grade 1 company awaited and of course he stepped up to the plate, beating the odds on favourite Samcro at Limerick to complete an unbelievable journey. A Grade 1 Novice Chase winner, 1752 days (Nearly 5 years) after winning the Champion Hurdle. Truly astonishing ability, class and longevity - and a real compliment to the maestro Mullins who stood by him all this time.

This wasn’t even to be the career highlight however, as he sent the Leopardstown crowd into chaos with a win at the Dublin Racing Festival (More on that in a minute) before we saw him for the final time finishing a brave third in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival behind Samcro and Melon, horses he was four years senior than. There was whispers he could have returned for more at the grand old age of 12-going-13, but Faugheen’s retirement was duly announced in May 2021 and he has gone to spend his days at the Irish National Stud. A warrior of a horse who left with nothing left to prove, Faugheen is an icon of National Hunt Racing and during his fruitful career reminded us every day why we so deeply love this game.

Most Iconic Performance

By wow factor, his Irish Champion Hurdle win in 2016 which made him the highest rated hurdler of the century is the most iconic, but in terms on popularity and quite simply pure unbridled joy, his Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase win at the Dublin Racing Festival takes the cake.

Facing six other rivals, all of whom he was older than by five years bar Easy Game, who was half his age, Faugheen showed us that age is purely just a number as he made his rivals look like the old men in a truly memorable performance. When he hit the front for the first time as they turned for home, it was like someone had dropped a spark into a box of fireworks as the crowd went into a pure joy driven craze. He was taken to the far side rail and although scrappy at his obstacle, cleared it and landed just ahead of stablemate Easy Game.

From here it was all about who was the most gutsy and who wanted it most - there was only ever going to be one winner of that. The Machine gave his absolute all in a nail-biting finish, and had everyone on edge from that final furlong to the finish, but just like he had done so many times before, stuck his neck out and gave his all to win it.

One of the finest moments in the Dublin Racing Festival’s history and one of the finest moments of Willie Mullins’ career. Faugheen was the stand out horse of the year in 2014/15 and once again, so many years later, was the standout horse in 2020 - truly unbelievable. 

Ranking so far:


10 - Native River

9 - Sea The Stars

8 - Tiger Roll

7 - Hurricane Fly

6 - Enable

5 - Sprinter Sacre

Today's Racing Tips
Advert Disclaimer is a free online resource which endeavour to provide helpful and useful content and odds comparison to its visitors. Please be advised that accepts affiliate commission from the companies appearing on the site, and agreed commission levels impact the location and order in which the companies (and/or their products) are presented on the website. Any ratings that appear on this site is determined by our subjective opinion of the brand but also based on market share and reputation, each brand's conversion rates, commission paid to us and general consumer interest. Company listings on this page don't imply our endorsement. We do not feature all providers on the market. Except as expressly set forth in our terms and conditions, all statements and warranties regarding the information presented on this page are disclaimed. The information, including odds, which appear on this site is subject to change at any time.

100% Up To £50 Welcome Bonus + 25 Spins

#AD 18+; New bettors get 100% of deposit up to £50; Once per household; Min deposit £15 (no Skrill/Neteller); Wager a total of 8 times deposit + bonus, with max qualifying bet stake equal to your initial bonus amount; Bonus expires after 60 days; Min odds of 4/5 on singles, or 2/5 per leg for acca; Some bet types excluded; Free spins validity: 7 days; Free spins max. winnings = £100; See full terms; Terms apply.
Bet £10 Get £30 In Free Bets
#AD 18+. Play Safe. New customers using Promo code H30 only, Min £10/€10 stake,  min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15, free bets credited after  settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after  the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply.
Bet £10 Get £30 Free Bets (APP Only)
#AD New UK, IE & Malta customers only. 18+. Min £10/€10 first deposit using Debit Card or Trustly. Place a bet of £10 at min odds of 1.5. Free bets expire in 90 days. Full T&Cs apply.
Welcome Offer
#AD Bet £10 & Get £50 in Free Bets for new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. The bonus code SPTS365 can be used during registration, but does not change the offer amount in any way.
Bet £10 Get £60 in Bonuses
#AD New UK customers only. Register using the promo code BETFRED60, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+) within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £20 in Free Bets to be used on Sports, £10 in Free Bets to be used on Lotto and 50 Free Spins (20p per spin) credited within 48 hours of bet settlement. Further £20 in Free Bets credited 5 days after settlement. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
Bet £20 & Get It Back As CASH If It Loses
#AD New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any Horse Racing market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £20. Only deposits made using cards will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Money Back As Cash Up To £20
#AD Max £20 refund on first bet. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. Only deposits made via Debit Card will be eligible for the promotion. T&Cs apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
#AD Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £30 Free Bets
#AD Offer includes a free £1 Race Index spread bet to try out our exciting 50-25-10 race markets. Place a £10 fixed odds bet at minimum odds of 1/2. Get 2 x £10 free fixed odds bets + 2 x £5 free Winning Favourites spread bets. Bet with live streaming on all racing and greyhounds! Ts&Cs Apply. 18+
Bet £10 Get £10 + £10 Casino Bonus
#AD New UK customers (Excluding NI) mobile only. £20 in FREE Bets (FB) as £10 in sports bets & a £10 casino bonus (CB). Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. FB applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. FB 7 day expiry. 1 FB offer per customer, household & IP address only. Payment restrictions. 14 days to accept £10 CB, then active for 3 days. CB 5x wagering & max redeemable £100. Game restrictions apply. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. 30 days to qualify. 18+.  T&Cs apply
£25 Free Bet + 10 Free Spins
If your account has Sportsbook losses at the end of your first day's betting, QuinnBet will refund 50% of your losses as a Free Bet up to £25 (min 3 bets) Plus 10 Free Spins on Asgard Warriors. Even if your account is up, you're guaranteed a £5 Free Bet Plus 10 Free Spins provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at the minimum odds. T&Cs apply | 18+ New UK Customers Only |
Latest racing results
2ndDan's Chosen
1stVillage Voice
3rdRattle And Hum
3rdGolden Valour
View All Today's Results