Champagne Fever Sets The Pace Ahead of Cheltenham

It was another weekend of informative pointers and clues for punters to digest in terms of future profits, including at Navan on Sunday where several Graded events caught the eye.

Very Wood – Very Good
The first was the Grade 2 novice chase won by Noel Meade’s, Very Wood, who bounced back from two disappointing efforts to run out an easy winner. Last year’s Albert Bartlett victor may be the type who improves at this time of year (yet to win in Nov/Dec/Jan), and will need respecting at Cheltenham, where he is 10/1 for the National Hunt Chase and 20/1 for the RSA Chase.

The Grade 2 Flyingbolt Novice Chase proved less informative, as Rawnaq ran out a shock winner, and can’t be relied upon to repeat this. The disappointment was Enda Bolger’s, Gilgamboa, who was lame having finished the race a tired horse, and he will need to bounce back for the Arkle Chase, in which his odds drifted to 33/1.

There was good news for followers of Tony Martin’s, Dedigout, though, as he continued his fine form in landing the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle, and could be adding further races if we have a wet spring. Currently 20/1 for the World Hurdle, Dedigout is improving, but wouldn’t want ground faster than yielding to soft, according to Martin.

Champagne Fever
Twenty-four hours earlier, Champagne Fever gave his backers something to cheer ahead of Cheltenham next month, when landing the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase.

While competition was thin on the ground, this would have done his confidence the world of good having fallen previously, and with such an excellent Cheltenham Festival record to boot (two wins and a runner-up),

Champagne Fever will head into the Champion Chase (4/1) in top form, though he could also go for the Ryanair (5/1).

A decision on which race he will go for should come in a fortnight’s time.

The Grade 2 Red Mills Trial Hurdle was less of a help in terms of next month, as the victor, Kitten Rock, will need to improve significantly at 25/1 for the Champion Hurdle.

Spring Targets
Another with big odds for the Champion Hurdle is Paul Nicholls’, Irving (50/1), who was a surprise loser in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday. Blue Heron triumphed on the day and could be seen next at Aintree.

On the subject of April, Lie Forrit was a third winner for Lucinda Russell in Haydock’s Grand National Trial, and will now be prepared for April’s Scottish National at Ayr, where he will look to make up for being pulled up in the race last year. His confidence has rocketed this season, though, and with a longer break prior to the race this time around (was only given 3 weeks rest last year), Lie Forrit is a name to note when prices are released later in the spring.

Taking a long-term view may also pay dividends with Balder Success, who won Saturday’s Grade 1 Ascot Chase, and is 6/1 for Ryanair Chase. However, having failed to finish in three runs at Cheltenham, Alan King’s runner may be one to remember for Aintree, as could David Pipe’s, Ainsi Fideles, who took Ascot’s Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, and could be targeted for Merseyside in April, according to Pipe.