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Champagne Fever’s Cheltenham hopes to take a knock at Gowran

| 13.02.2015

Former Cheltenham Champion Bumper and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Champagne Fever looks likely to go off as a short-priced favourite in Gowran Park’s 2m2f Grade 2 Red Mill Chase, but punters would be wise to study the eight-year-old’s recent form before steaming in.

The clearly high-class Willie Mullins animal has failed to win five of his past six races, going down at 8/15, 11/4, 5/4, 9/2 and 4/5 odds during that sequence.

Champagne Fever has never run a bad race at Cheltenham, winning twice and finishing second by a head in three visits to Prestbury Park, all of them at the Festival, so punters on the Ricci-family owned gelding at 6/1 for the Champion Chase needn’t fret just yet.

However, Champagne Fever hasn’t tackled less than 2m4f in three starts since the end of last season, and last won over a shorter trip 10 races ago.

That victory was also in a 2m2f race, albeit it over hurdles instead of the bigger obstacles, and Mullins’ mount looks set to renew rivalries with the one-and-three-quarter lengths runner-up from that day, Sandra Hughes’ Bright New Dawn.

There’s reason to believe Hughes’ charge, a 50/1 shot for the Champion Chase, is on an upward curve after reversing form with Mullins’ Twinlight, who beat Bright New Dawn by more than 10 lengths between Xmas and New Year, when chasing home Hidden Cyclone at Leopardstown last time out.

Considering Champagne Fever’s only win this season came in what proved to be a weak Clonmel Grade 2 in November, when second-favourite Sizing Europe finished sixth of the seven runners, it’s hard to have confidence in a horse that fell last time out.

Noel Meade has indicated that Texas Jack may be seen out again in Gowran’s 14.10, less than a week after running a fine race to finish fifth behind Carlingford Lough at Leopardstown in the Irish Hennessy, but Gigginstown first-string Bright New Dawn gets our vote.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune