Willie Mullins’ Champagne Fever is fancied to turn over Don Cossack in the Grade 2 Ladbrokes’ Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles this afternoon, should the meeting survive an 8am inspection.
The selection, admittedly, doesn’t always put his best foot forward, but is a decent sort when on song and will relish the testing conditions.
Following an impressive display over today’s two and a half mile trip at Clonmel, he stepped up to three miles for the first time in the King George at Kempton at Christmas.
Champagne Fever ran prominently for most of the journey, but clearly failed to stay and faded to finish fourth behind Silviniaco Conti.
The progressive Don Cossack will be attempting to make it four from four for the season. Gordon Elliott’s imposing gelding has made a lot of progress this campaign and is finally starting to live up to what was expected of him in his younger days.
He produced a career-best effort in the Grade 1 John Durkan at Punchestown in early December, slamming Boston Bob by four and a half lengths. His jumping, in the main, was very impressive and there was much to admire as well in the way he bolted clear from the back of the final fence. The worry with Don Cossack, however, is whether this big, long-striding gelding will handle a fast track such as Thurles.
Last year’s winner of the race, Texas Jack, was beaten six and a quarter lengths into fourth in the John Durkan, but that was his first outing of the campaign and he is not without hope.
Whatever the fate of Champagne Fever, Mullins should be on the mark with both Milsean and Vroum Vroum Mag.
Milsean,a dual bumper winner, didn’t overly impress on his debut over jumps when beating Snow Falcon at Navan, but is likely to be seen in a better light with another six furlongs to travel in the W T O’Grady Memorial EBF Novice Hurdle.
The ex-French Vroum Vroum Mag has made a big impression in her two successes in this country, at Wexford and Cork, and is difficult to oppose in the Grade 3 Leading Light Coolmore National Hunt Sires EBF Mares’ Novice Chase.
Mouse Morris’ Baily Cloud, a costly failure at Fairyhouse on Sunday, gets the nod in the opening Maiden Hurdle. He was travelling strongly in front then when parting company with David Casey, contest won by Rathpatrick, and is fancied to set the record straight.
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