It's never too late! Faugheen tries fences for first time at the age of 11

Naas Oil Beginners Chase | 2m4f | 4yo+ | RTV

You seldom see horses making their debut over fences at the age of 11, certainly not those who have won Champion Hurdles, but Faugheen embarks on a new career at Punchestown – and partner Paul Townend thinks he will be hard to beat.

The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner won his first ten starts under rules, before suffering his first defeat at this meeting four years ago when Nichols Canyon had his measure in the Morgiana Hurdle.

Once rated 174 in his prime, Faugheen's last win was over 18 months ago, but Townend thinks the flame is still burning and reports his schooling to have gone very well.

He said: "It is very exciting to get him over fences. His schooling has been very good and he has experience of running in a point-to-point.

"Last season was frustrating for him but hopefully fences can rekindle the spark. It’s not going to be a straightforward assignment for him, but if he shows any of his old ability he will be hard to beat."

Faugheen faces 16 rivals and among them is smart hurdler, Cracking Smart, one of three runners in the race for Gordon Elliott. who won the race last year with Ben Dundee.