Fever stars on fencing debut
Champagne Fever made a very impressive fencing debut in the Connexus Communications Beginners Chase at Punchestown.
Last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner had his first start over larger obstacles over two and a half miles but set out to make all the running under Ruby Walsh. He put in some prodigious leaps on the first circuit and as the race began, Rogue Angel's jumping began to fall apart as he attempted to keep pace.
Champagne Fever (4/7 favourite) made his first semblance of a mistake at the second last but Willie Mullins' grey was soon back on an even keel and while Corbally Ghost came with a late challenge, Mullins and Walsh will have been delighted that Champagne Fever quickened up impressively after the last to win by four lengths.
The victory completed an early treble for Mullins and Walsh after the wins of Analifet and Glens Melody earlier on the card. Champagne Fever was already favourite for the Arkle in March and Paddy Power cut him to 5/1 from 6s.
Mullins said: "He's an electric jumper. He'll have no trouble going up or back in trip and I have him entered in everything."
Analifet was sent off the 1/3 favourite for the Ballymore GAA Christmas Fair 3-Y-O Hurdle and the result was never in any doubt. The French import, making her debut for Mullins, cruised to a nine-length success. Glens Melody was the 8/13 favourite for the Punchestown Annual Membership 95 Euros Hurdle and it was another armchair ride for Walsh.
There was a thrilling finish to the Crystal Cup Trial Risk Of Thunder Chase and it went to Enda Bolger's 12/1 shot Love Rory, who came with a sustained run from the final obstacle under Adrian Heskin and collared Sizing Australia to score by a head. Unlucky horse of the race was the winner's stable companion Keep On Track, who held every chance when slipping up on the sharp bend before the second-last.
Bolger said: "I thought Sizing Australia was going to be hard to beat, but our fellow has kept at it. He'll go down the cross-country route now."