Champagne Fever made a very impressive fencing debut in the Connexus Communications Beginners Chase at Punchestown.
Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner had his first start over larger obstacles over two and a half miles but set out to make all the running under Ruby Walsh at a generous clip.
He put in some prodigious leaps on the first circuit and as the race began in earnest, Rogue Angel’s jumping began to fall apart as he attempted to keep up with the pace.
Next to challenge was Marlbrook, who appeared to be travelling nicely but his jumping was put under pressure, also, and he soon dropped away.
Champagne Fever (4-7 favourite) made his first semblance of a mistake at the second last but Willie Mullins’ grey was soon back on an even keel and while Corbally Ghost came with a late challenge, Mullins and Walsh will have been delighted that Champagne Fever quickened up impressively after the last to win by four lengths.
The victory completed an early treble for Mullins and Walsh after the wins of Analifet and Glens Melody earlier on the card.
Champagne Fever was already favourite for the Arkle in March and Paddy Power cut him to 5-1 from 6s.
Mullins said: ``He's an electric jumper. I'd say it was just lack of concentration at the second-last. He's able to put in short ones as well as long ones and he looks a natural.
“He’ll have no trouble going up or back in trip and I have him entered in everything.
“He’ll probably go shorter at Christmas and whether he runs between now and then will depend on how he comes out of this.”
Analifet was sent off the 1-3 favourite for the Ballymore GAA Christmas Fair 3-Y-O Hurdle and the result never looked in any doubt whatsoever.
The French import, making her debut for Mullins, jumped with alacrity for one so young and cruised to a nine-length success.
She was introduced into the Triumph Hurdle betting at around the 16-1 mark.
“She did today what she’s been showing at home. She’s very sharp and a strong mare and we put ear plugs in today,” said Mullins.
“I’d imagine we’ll be looking at Fairyhouse in a few weeks for her or Leopardstown at Christmas.
“There is also a Listed fillies’ race at Aintree in a few weeks.
“She’s been doing good work at home and if she can improve I wouldn’t be afraid to bring her anywhere.”
Glens Melody was the 8-13 favourite for the Punchestown Annual Membership 95 Euros Hurdle and it was another armchair ride for Walsh.
No match for Annie Power last season, she handled the step up in trip with aplomb.
“The two miles six didn’t seem to be any problem for her and I think she could go out to three miles,” said Mullins.
“The fact that we can go out in trip gives her more options.
“She’ll be staying over hurdles as the owner (and breeder, Fiona McStay) is not keen to go chasing.
“I’ll have to have a look at the programme and decide where we go.”