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Christmas blip shouldn’t dent Champagne Fever’s Arkle claims

| 28.12.2013

Results at Leopardstown and Kempton over the Christmas period have brought a mini shake-up to the Arkle Chase betting, with Champagne Fever still the clear favourite at 4/1, despite an unexpected defeat in Ireland.

Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor was a fairly routine winner on his chase debut at Punchestown and was sent off odds-on for the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

However, a bad mistake two out cost Ruby Walsh’s mount any dwindling chance of victory and he eventually kept on at the one pace to take third.

What should be remembered though is that Champagne Fever was beaten twice in the December/January period last year, once by 40 lengths when sent off at 1/4 at Naas, so the defeat may be best taken with a pinch of salt.

The scalp of Champagne Fever has certainly had a bearing on Defy Logic’s Arkle chances, as he has shortened into 8/1 co-second favourite to follow up at Cheltenham.

Also at 8/1 is Dodging Bullets, who made it three chase victories from three starts when victorious over Grandouet in the Kempton contest most known as the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has indicated that the Arkle is the seasonal target for Dodging Bullets and it is worth mentioning that the winner gave Grandouet 6lb, alongside the 10-length beating.

The result has caused the runner up to drift out to 16/1 to win the Arkle and he is proving expensive to follow after three chase defeats, two of which at odds-on.

Some crumbs of comfort are that his tendency to jump left won’t be such a hindrance at Cheltenham, he should get a preferable quicker surface and he is unlikely to race so freely from the off again.

It is worth remembering that 2009 Arkle winner Forpadydeplaster had developed a knack of finishing second all season before finally going one better in March. Grandouet is certainly talented enough to follow suit.