Champagne Fever looks the pick in Slaney


RACING:Champagne Fever can give the red-hot form of last month’s Royal Bond another significant boost in the Slaney Novice Hurdle at Naas tomorrow. Royal Bond winner Jezki is ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham after following up his Fairyhouse victory with a brilliant display at Leopardstown over the festive period.

The Royal Bond third Zuzka has also enjoyed subsequent success in Graded company. Champagne Fever and Minsk, respective second and fourth at Fairyhouse, now lock horns again in an intriguing Grade Two contest.

Last season’s Champion Bumper hero Champagne Fever is tackling 2½ miles for the first time and trainer Willie Mullins believes the extra distance will be in his favour. “The Royal Bond form looks very good after what Jezki did at Leopardstown over Christmas. Hopefully Champagne Fever can confirm that,” he said.

Minsk has a little over five lengths to find with Champagne Fever on the Fairyhouse form, but trainer Dessie Hughes is confident it will be more of a race this time. “I hope we might be able to turn the form around. I think I might have run him back a bit quick in the Royal Bond. It was only a couple of weeks after his first run of the season in Punchestown.

“He’s an Irish Cesarewitch winner and he might just be a better horse over 2½ miles over hurdles. But, having said that, he wasn’t done for foot the last day – he turned into the straight like the winner. He seems in good form and I’m very happy with him.” Hughes also saddles Captain Arceus, who has plenty to do at the ratings.

Mouse Morris is hoping Rule The World can build on his impressive win at Navan in early December. The Co Tipperary trainer said: “It’s a good race and the ground is a bit soft for our fellow, but it’s going to be soft ground wherever you go.He’s in good shape and hopefully he can run a big race.”

Paul Townend looks the rider to follow at Cork today. Blackstairmountain can get him off to a flyer in the opener and he should follow up on Terminal (2.20) and Saoirse Dun (2.55).

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