Sunday 23 October 2016

Punchestown 2015: Champagne can pop as Festival opens with a bang

Champagne Fever
Champagne Fever

Champagne Fever could be worth a bet to show his best side as the Punchestown Festival gets under way tomorrow.

Stamina will be an essential asset for those hoping to see out the five days of top-class racing and craic to the finish.

But tactical speed is the premier weapon in Champagne Fever's armoury, so let's hope we see him back in his favoured front-running role in the Boylesports Champion Chase (5.30).

A trip to Cheltenham for the Champion Chase there in March proved wasted petrol when a stablemate took offence and bit him in the racecourse stables.

But hopes were high that compensation would come quickly at Aintree, only for the erratic grey to throw in another below-par effort.


He has undoubtedly become increasingly unpredictable over the last couple of seasons.

But he was far from disgraced when failing to get home in the King George at Kempton, and showed afterwards that when things go right he can look outstanding when destroying his rivals at Gowran in February.

Vautour's absence has opened this contest up and also allowed Ruby Walsh to move into the saddle of Champagne Fever.

Some will make an issue out of the fact that Paul Townend is two-from-two on the horse this season, but Walsh is perfectly capable of getting the perfect tune out of him too, as he can hopefully prove here.

Fellow Willie Mullins runner Douvan looks unopposable in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle (4.20).

And it would be no surprise to see the champion trainer claim a third Grade One on the day when Don Poli tackles the Growise Champion Novice Chase (6.40).


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