Facile Vega has generated a lot of interest over the last couple of years and he has been impressively consistent on the track over hurdles.
The Willie Mullins charge has been a winner at the Cheltenham Festival and has claimed over £120,000 in winnings for connections.
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse|
|When||15:30, Tuesday, 12th March 2024|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV & Racing TV|
|Odds||Constitution Hill 4/6, State Man 4/1, Impaire Et Passe 5/1, Marine Nationale 7/1|
It's safe to suggest the Facile Vega was bred to succeed.
His sire Walk In The Park is synonymous with top jumps performers and he's out of the super-mare Quevega - the record-breaking winner of six successive Cheltenham Festival races from 2009-2014 in the Mares' Hurdle.
With that pedigree, big things were always expected. Adding to the allure, he is owned and bred by the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate - and races in the same iconic red/blue colours carried so successfully by his mother.
In 2022, in his first season on the track, he caught the attention with his bumper efforts, including justifying favouritism in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March - so the big-race pressure certainly isn't alien to either him or his connections.
Back in December 2021, Patrick Mullins was quizzed on which of the battalion of contenders his father would send out in the days ahead should be looked out for.
The rider, who partners the best of the Closutton bumper squad, had no hesitation in putting forward the name Facile Vega.
His family connections were known, but Mullins informed his work at home was pleasing everyone and his excitement was noted.
So, on 26th December and day one of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Facile Vega started as 10/11fav and won a soft-ground bumper by six lengths.
Around six weeks later, he really came into the public consciousness with a spine-tingling turn of foot to win his second bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival and a star was born.
Come Cheltenham in March, a deluge of rain almost had the Champion Bumper being called off, but Mullins Jr and Facile Vega glided around Prestbury Park and put away the challenge of the hitherto unbeaten American Mike at their leisure.
A fourth and final win followed at Punchestown and the die had been cast, Facile Vega was going to be the most eagerly anticipated novice to jump a hurdle this season.
At Fairyhouse in December 2022, jockey Paul Townend coasted around on Facile Vega to secure a a 14-length win for the 1/9 favourite.
Back at Leopardstown over Christmas, the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle was won, again from the front, though this time with previous hurdles winners Il Etait Temps and Ashroe Diamond beaten.
A mistake at the fifth flight at Leopardstown in February 2023 was a factor in Facile Vega finishing fifth, behind winner Il Etait Temps, in the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Nurdle.
That wasn’t ideal preparation for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival, but the six-year-old still went off the 9/4f for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Challenging for the top prize again, the gelding landed awkwardly after the final hurdle and although he stayed on, Facile Vega eventually finished second - 3 ¼ lengths behind Marine Nationale.
He responded to Cheltenham disappointment with a Grade 1 win at Punchestown in April 2023, with victory in the Champion Novice Hurdle, beating Il Etait Temps by 7 ½ lengths.
Facile Vega is expected to back at the Cheltenham Festival in 2024, but it remains to be seen which race connections will chose to enter him in.
The Mullins runner is 28/1 to win the Champion Hurdle - which looks the most likely option - and he is 40/1 to win the Stayers’ Hurdle.