Fever cut for Festival repeat
Last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Champagne Fever has been cut for three novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival after making a winning debut over fences.
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Ruby Walsh never saw another rival having sent the six-year-old off in front at Punchestown, and his mount produced several impressive leaps on his way to a facile success.
With long-term options very much open, it's difficult to know where he'll end up but at a general 5/1 for the Arkle the two-mile option would appear the most likely at this stage.
He's also favourite for the Jewson Novices' Chase at 8/1 with Paddy Power, while those who feel his future lies over further can have a general 12/1 that he wins the RSA Chase. William Hill go 7/2 that he wins any race at the Festival.
"Champagne Fever has won twice before at the Cheltenham Festival and the betting suggests he's right on track for the hat-trick," said William Hill's Jon Ivan-Duke. "fter such a good start to life over fences, we expect he'll be popular in our 'to win any race at the Festival' betting."
Stan James reckon he might end up running over the intermediate trip of two and a half miles. Their Rory Jiwani said: "We have a feeling the Jewson may be more up his street and he's the 6/1 favourite for that from 10/1."
Le Bec and Shutthefrontdoor were both cut to 20/1 for the three-mile contest after fighting out the finish in Cheltenham's novice chase on Saturday, with Le Bec coming out on top. African Gold disappointed in behind and is out to 25s.
Earlier on the card at Cheltenham, Royal Irish Hussar put down an early marker for the Triumph Hurdle by making it three wins from as many races over obstacles, and bookmakers are at odds over how high a standard he sets.
Sky Bet cut him to 8/1 from 16s and Michael Shinners, spokesman for the firm, was impressed. He said: "We were impressed with his battling qualities and he proved that he'll find plenty off the bridle.
"He has set a marker for the rest of the juveniles."
However, Ladbrokes are happy to quote an industry-high 16/1. Spokesman David Williams said: "He did little wrong but we weren't overly impressed with his scope and we'd be very surprised if there weren't better horses yet to appear."
Runner-up Guitar Pete was trimmed too and now trades at 33/1 generally, while Analifet is a best of 20/1 with William Hill having made an impressive start to her career at the Willie Mullins yard back at Punchestown.
The big race of the day, the Paddy Power Gold Cup, went the way of the progressive Johns Spirit who just got the better of Ben Linfoot's Value Bet selection Colour Squadron.
Ladbrokes confirmed that the result was a bad one for them, with Williams adding: "Champion Court would have been worse but Johns Spirit's win was nothing for us to celebrate. It was a tough day."