Champagne Fever pops his maiden tag
Champagne Fever soars over a hurdle at Cork
(Healy Racing Photos)
The 1/8 favourite was making his hurdling debut after a campaign last season that saw him win the Cheltenham and Punchestown bumpers.
The soft ground was no bother to him as he hacked up by five lengths with Paul Townend virtually motionless after jumping the last.
Anduknowhat won the race for second at 14/1 for John Walsh and Mark Enright, four and three parts ahead of Ardboe Abbey (12/1).
Harold Kirk, representing Willie Mullins, commented: “It’s nice to get that out of the way. The late start was a bit nerve-wracking.
“He jumped very big, but that’s to be expected as he has been point-to-pointing.He has a very high cruising speed and that was a very pleasing effort.”
Willie Mullins, who is at Punchestown today, added: “He did nothing wrong. He jumped big and he wasn't helped by all the messing at the start. He’ll keep at hurdling.”
<Champagne Fever is 12/1 from 14/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham with bookmaker Stan James.
Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes
Defeat wasn’t considered an option for odds on favourite Road To Riches in the opening two and a half mile maiden hurdle at Punchestown as on-course punters backed him down to 1/6 from an opening show of 1/3.