Mullins hints Fever could step up
Felix Yonger could yet be Willie Mullins' main contender for the Racing Post Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, with the champion trainer hinting Champagne Fever could be about to step up in trip.
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Champagne Fever has won at the last two Festivals having landed the Champion Bumper in 2012 and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last year and he got his fencing career off to a great start when scoring at Punchestown in November.
However, he made a bad mistake two fences from home in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival and finished a well beaten third behind Paul Nolan's Defy Logic.
Champagne Fever remains Arkle favourite, but is also prominent in the betting for the two-and-a-half-mile JLT Novices' Chase with the RSA Chase over three miles another possible alternative.
Mullins' Felix Yonger beat Defy Logic comfortably at Punchestown in November, but also suffered a shock defeat last month as he failed to reel in stable companion The Paparrazi Kid at Limerick.
"Champagne (Fever) has done everything right, but Felix Yonger hammered Defy Logic and Defy Logic won the race the other day," Mullins told At The Races.
"Defy Logic was going right-handed around here (Punchestown). Maybe he is better going left-handed in Leopardstown.
"He jumped and did everything right. He put it up to Champagne Fever and Champagne Fever didn't match up going down to the second last.
"It's debatable how well he was going. Some people say he was going very well. Other people think maybe that's as good as he was. I think it was a fantastic performance out of Defy Logic.
"On the formbook, Felix Yonger beat Defy Logic and Champagne Fever couldn't.
"Champagne Fever can easily go out to two and a half miles and could even go out to three miles. He'd stay any trip, I think. He's an out-and-out galloper.
"He's such a fantastic jumper he can win over two miles and that's why I've been campaigning up to now over two miles."