Copycatting Champagne Fever the smart option for Vautour in Supreme
One fact that may not be known about Champagne Fever’s success in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago was that it was achieved four seconds faster than Hurricane Fly won the Champion Hurdle on the same day over the same course.
Ruby Walsh came out on top on both horses and it was his pace management that was particularly commendable with Champagne Fever.
Having set off in front at a fairly blistering pace, stringing the field out early, he allowed a breather into the horse in a slower middle section, before quickening up again as they came down the hill three flights from home.
It was Champagne Fever’s smart jumping from a novice that allowed him to take the early initiative and the stamina he had previously shown to win over 2m2f helped him to out-battle My Tent Or Yours up the Cheltenham hill.
And it is this exact same strategy that could work best for another horse representing the Willie Mullins and Walsh trainer/jockey combination in the Supreme this time.
Vautour has been ridden prominently on all three starts since joining Mullins from France, but took on front-running duties for the first time at Leopardstown last month and he showed the necessary resilience to hold off recognised fast finisher The Tullow Tank.
The main rivals to Vautour in the Supreme are others that prefer to be held up and to ease into races. Wicklow Bay, Wilde Blue Yonder and the favourite Irving have all been switched off at the rear in recent races and similar tactics can be expected at Cheltenham.
With Vautour being a less error-prone jumper than the majority of his competition, Walsh could again establish an early lead and attempt to run the sting out of those being held up.
Vautour is now 100/30 to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, with Irving the 9/4 market leader.