Dual Champion Bumper winner CHAMPAGNE FEVER ran the exciting Jezki close in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in December but then ran no sort of race when a 1/4 chance for a Grade 2 at Naas. The latter event was over 2m4f and he ran so poorly that something must have been amiss and the safest option is to stick with the earlier form. Minsk took the selection on at Naas and the pair cut each other's throats, leaving the way open for Rule The World. He was behind Willie Mullins' charge in Jezki's race and may find this on the short side. Waaheb finished runner-up to Jezki in the Grade 1 Future Champions over the minimum trip here in December with Bright New Dawn and Wingtips not far behind. Any of that trio could be suited by today's extra quarter-mile but have a bit to find. John Ferguson sends the impressive Aintree maiden winner Buthelezi from the UK and he wouldn't be here if his shrewd handler didn't think he had a chance.
Bright New Dawn (IRE) 9-1 (11-10) Chased leaders in 3rd, 2nd 3 out, improved to lead early straight, ridden and headed before last, no extra in 3rd last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 9, 8l behind Jezki (11-7) at Leopardstown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) sft in Dec.
Champagne Fever (IRE) 1-4fav (11-3) Attempted to make all, ridden and joined 3 out, headed entering straight, soon weakened, dropped to poor 4th from 2 out, regained moderate 3rd run-in, 3rd of 5, 40l behind Rule The World (11-3) at Naas 2m 4f nov hdl Grade 2 (1) in Jan.
Legal Exit (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, 3rd halfway, ridden into 2nd before last, challenged last, soon led, kept on strongly run-in, comfortably, won at Leopardstown 2m mdn hdl in Jan beating Urano (11-10) by 4l, 20 ran.
Waaheb (USA) 3-1 (11-10) Held up towards rear early, 6th halfway, 4th after 3 out, 5th and slight mistake 2 out, ridden into 2nd last, no chance with winner run-in, kept on same pace, 2nd of 9, 6l behind Jezki (11-7) at Leopardstown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) sft in Dec.
Buthelezi (USA) 4-1 (11-4) Made all, jumped left at times, clear 3rd until after 6th, not fluent 2 out, stayed on well to come clear again flat, won at Aintree 2m 1f mdn hdl (4) sft in Dec beating Oscar Magic (11-7) by 7l, 12 ran.
Minsk (IRE) 5-1 (11-0) Tracked leader in close 2nd, bad mistake 5th, improved to dispute lead 3 out, led entering straight, soon strongly pressed and ridden, headed 2 out, no impression on winner well before last, kept on same pace, 2nd of 5, 16l behind Rule The World (11-3) at Naas 2m 4f nov hdl Grade 2 (1) in Jan.
Umpact (FR) Evensfav (11-3) Soon led, headed 2 out, soon no impression under pressure, kept on same pace, 2nd of 6, 5l behind Love Rory (11-3) at Limerick 2m 4yo hdl hvy in Dec.
Wingtips (FR) 22-1 (11-7) Held up towards rear, headway into 7th before 2 out, ridden entering straight, stayed on to 4th last, kept on same pace, 4th of 9, 9l behind Jezki (11-7) at Leopardstown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) sft in Dec.