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Champagne Fever a shrewd early punt for 2014 Champion Hurdle

| 15.03.2013

After showing exemplary staying qualities in this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Champagne Fever could prove exceptional value in the 2014 Champion Hurdle at a massive early price.

The six-year-old Irish-trained beast led from the outset in the Supreme Novices’, holding off competition from heavy pre-race favourite My Tent Or Yours, whom he bettered by half a length in the end.

Despite outstaying this well-fancied foe, Champagne Fever still sits way behind him in the Cheltenham Festival betting market at 12/1.

One thing working against the horse is that the man who piloted him to Supreme Novices’ success, Ruby Walsh, is highly likely to be steering Hurricane Fly in next season’s instalment of the race as the superstar stayer bids to win his third Champion Hurdle in four years.

Yet given Champagne Fever gained his Festival win in a quicker time than Hurricane Fly clocked up in claiming his second Champion Hurdle over the same trip it won’t be an easy decision.

Darlan, who only managed a second in the previous year’s Supreme Novices’, was the ante-post favourite for this year’s Champion Hurdle, until his tragic demise. All these things considered, it’s tough to fathom as to why Champagne Fever is so far back in the betting.

Perhaps a runner with a stronger claim for success is The New One.

If Champagne Fever is a better shout than My Tent Or Yours, The New One blows the early doors second favourite out of the water.

Neptune winners have a good record in the Champion; Rock on Ruby finished second two years back before going on to beat Hurricane Fly last time around and, while Hardy Eustace and Istabraq both claimed the mantle before lifting the Champion. After demolishing this year’s Neptune, The New One is worthy of an early splurge at 8/1.

The New One’s chances are also boosted by a fairly damning statistic as far as Champagne Fever is concerned – not one Supreme Novices’ winner has triumphed in the Champion Hurdle the following season since 1971. Having smashed the Neptune over 2m4f, stamina is obviously no issue for him either.