Champagne Fever may step up in trip for Willie Mullins

Six year old could target RSA Chase after being soundly beaten by Defy Logic at Leopardstown

Ruby Walsh and Champagne Fever (grey) land ahead of Mark Walsh onboard Defy Logic (right) before being beaten into third in  the sixth race of the day at Leopardstown on Sunday.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ruby Walsh and Champagne Fever (grey) land ahead of Mark Walsh onboard Defy Logic (right) before being beaten into third in the sixth race of the day at Leopardstown on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mon, Dec 30, 2013, 13:28

Willie Mullins is considering stepping Champagne Fever up in trip following his defeat at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner won impressively on his chase bow and was sent off as the 8/15 favourite for the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase, but he could only finish a distant third behind Defy Logic after making a bad mistake two from home.

Mullins was impressed with the winner but told At The Races he’d been left wondering whether he and jockey Ruby Walsh got their tactics right and whether they should step the six year old up in trip.

“Defy Logic put in a fantastic performance the other day and, maybe, going left-handed he is a little better than going right-handed. The exhibition of jumping the two of them gave down the back was fantastic we haven’t seen two horses go head to head like that for a while,” he said.

“Did we need to do that? We were getting a nice lead, should we have taken it? That’s what you run races for, you learn from it, you get experience. Ruby will do a lot of thinking about it and I’ll do a lot of thinking about it and we’ll see what we do the next day.”

Options are open for the grey gelding with Mullins even considering a marked step up in trip for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

“He’s a stayer basically, I think his jumping is good enough for the Arkle but the other day it was disappointing he made the mistake and maybe that might tell us that we should be going the other direction,” he continued.

“He has the pedigree for the RSA and I’m not sure what we’re going to do with him the next time now whether we go for the Irish version of the Arkle or whether we go for a two-and-a-half mile chase somewhere.

“I’ve got Felix Yonger there who would look an Arkle horse and we’ve got a lot of thinking to do over the next three weeks before their next run.”

Champagne Fever is the 5/1 favourite with Sky Bet for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy with Felix Yonger a 14/1 chance.

The pair are 8/1 and 10/1 respectively with the same firm for the Jewson Novices’ Chase while Champagne Fever is 12/1 with the Leeds firm for the RSA Chase for which Felix Yonger is a 33/1 shot with Stan James.