Fever gives Mullins headache

  • Last Updated: December 30 2013, 18:32 GMT

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

Champagne Fever: Could step up in trip
Champagne Fever: Could step up in trip

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.

Champagne Fever's jockey, Ruby Walsh, was also understandably disappointed with the performance but, unlike his trainer, he's convinced that the grey does have every chance of winning an Arkle.

"He's a live Arkle contender. He has the pace, his jumping was brilliant - apart from the second last and he handles Cheltenham too, having won twice there," he told Racing UK.

"He travelled and jumped super all the way to the second last, where he made a bad mistake and then faded.

"The second last at Leopardstown is crucial as you start to climb straight away into the straight. If you miss it, you don't get a chance to fill up. It's the wrong fence to miss. In hindsight, I would have been better off sitting behind rather than taking them on," he added.

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