Champagne Fever looks capable of going the distance in 2015 Gold Cup
Champagne Fever may have lost his unbeaten Cheltenham Festival record when second in the Arkle, but he still emerged as a live contender for next year’s Gold Cup.
Willie Mullins’ gelding jumped well from the front in the 2m contest and rallied gamely to go down by just a head to outsider Western Warhorse, leaving the distinct impression that he needed a greater stamina test to be seen at his best.
He tried his best to burn off his rivals, and it was a highly creditable effort given that it was just his third start over fences.
The seven-year-old had looked far more at home over further distance when scoring eased down by four lengths on his chasing debut over 2m 4f at Punchestown. He certainly looks the type who will have even more to offer as he gains further experience and has his stamina brought into play.
If that is the case then the 2015 Gold Cup would seem a logical target, especially with Bobs Worth failing to retain his crown this year after finishing just fifth to Lord Windermere in what looked an average renewal.
The race looks set up for a rising star to emerge and throw their hat into the ring, and Champagne Fever looks one of the main protagonists to do so.
The grey comes alive at Cheltenham in March, as his previous wins in the 2012 Champion Bumper and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2013 pay testament to that.
The fact that he had enough class to beat My Tent Or Yours and Jezki in the latter over just 2m suggests that he has an unusual blend of speed and stamina which are going to be potent weapons as his chasing career develops.
His handler, who came closest to winning the Gold Cup when On His Own got beat a short-head this year, has also made no secret of how high he rates the horse.
Champagne Fever is a much classier animal than On His Own, and stable jockey Ruby Walsh has already stated that he is looking forward to a crack at the King George with him next season.
That suggests a campaign built around the Gold Cup is firmly on the cards, and the Irish-trained duo of Kicking King and War Of Attrition both ran in the Arkle prior to winning that race 12 months later.
Coral go 10/1 about Champagne Fever following in their footsteps.