Owner Rich Ricci hopes Faugheen will return to action in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on January 29.
The eight-year-old has not been seen since winning the Leopardstown feature last season, with Willie Mullins’ charge subsequently suffering an injury that ruled him out of defending his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham.
“He’s going well, I’d be hopeful of the Irish Champion,” said Ricci.
“He’s there or thereabouts, I don’t want people to worry.
“It’s just been niggles, he got a stone bruise and then it got inflamed. It’s very stop-start.
“He’s working every day, he’s riding every day, he’s close. We’ve had a good run for two weeks with him now and I hope we can keep that going. I’m hoping we see him on the 29th, and I’m hopeful that we will.”
l Dan Skelton will give Virgilio a mid-season break before targeting the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree.
The seven-year-old claimed his most significant piece of form over fences to date when finishing second in an incident-packed Grade One at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Virgilio is now set to bypass the Cheltenham Festival in March in favour of a crack at the three-mile-one-furlong Grade One contest at the Merseyside track the following month.
Skelton said: “He is super tough and so genuine. He always tries his hardest and that is what he did at Kempton to pick up the pieces. He is a pleasure to have about the place.
“He ran well at Newbury in his previous run over two and a half miles where he was flat out the whole way round.
“He will have a break now and go to Aintree fresh for the Mildmay. We will just keep contesting these type of races with him.”
l Yesterday’s card at Catterick was abandoned due to frost.
HAYDOCK: 12.40 Aliandy, 1.10 Top Notch (next best), 1.40 Stowaway Magic, 2.10 Burtons Well, 2.40 Mysteree, 3.10 Pinch Of Ginger, 3.40 Dominada.
NEWCASTLE: 12.50 Killermont Street, 1.20 Intibaah, 1.50 ISHARAH (NAP), 2.20 John Milton, 2.50 Thello (treble), 3.20 Celtic Artisan, 3.50 Lozah, 4.20 Table Manners.
TAUNTON: 1.00 Welluptoscratch, 1.30 Act Now, 2.00 Peak To Peak, 2.30 Bramble Brook, 3.00 Crack Tiepy, 3.30 By The Boardwalk, 4.00 Let’s.