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Last Updated: April 25, 2012 8:34pm
Champagne Fever: Another Grade One win
Champagne Fever won a gruelling Betchronicle.com Champion INH Flat Race at Punchestown.
Trained by Willie Mullins, who had completed a double on the day when saddling the first three home in the preceding race, and owned, like the preceding winner, by Rich and Susannah Ricci, Champagne Fever dug deep to make every yard much as he had when winning the equivalent race at the Cheltenham Festival.
That day in March, he had been chased home by New Year's Eve but John Ferguson's runner was easy to back on this occasion and it proved all too much for the four year old who was one of several runners in the field to have stopped to a walk as the leaders turned for home.
Patrick Mullins set a fairly strong pace given the conditions and it looked as though he may have paid the price as his mount wandered close home.
Jeremy Scott's Chepstow winner Melodic Rendezvous tried hard to get to the winner and just about reached his quarters only for the grey to pull out more.
Jamie Codd eased his mount down once his chance had gone and the pair were seven lengths adrift at the line with Mozoltov, another from the Mullins stable, a close third.
The winning trainer said: "That was an extraordinary performance - he is a super horse.
"I don't know what we'll do next year; we were thinking of going straight over fences like we did with Florida Pearl (after he won the Cheltenham bumper), but I'm not sure now.
"I thought he was out on his feet in the straight, but Patrick said he was just idling. We know that the third (Mozoltov) is a good horse but Champagne Fever obviously stays well and is a good jumper.
"He is one that we are really looking forward to and has huge ability."
Joe Reardon, representing owners Rich and Susannah Ricci, added: "He is a serious horse - a very serious horse. We always knew that, but especially after that performance in that ground.
"Patrick was very wise to cross over to the stands' rail and straighten up. That's the real sign of a good horse to be able to pick up like he did today. He looked beaten for a few strides but found more. I think the plan will be for him to go straight over fences next season."