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Ladbrokes News vs Pricewise: Pop open the Champagne in Champion Chase

| 20.01.2015

Sprinter Sacre is back, Sire De Grugy’s return is imminent, but we think the value for the Champion Chase could lie in another popular horse that has done the business at Prestbury Park, on more than one occasion.

Approaching the last in the Ladbrokes Ireland Kinloch Brae, Champagne Fever was matching strides with eventual winner Don Cossack.

But an over exuberant jump saw the grey crumple on landing and hand the race to the Gigginstown-owned gelding.

As a result, owner Rich Ricci has hinted that a drop in trip is on the cards, and at 8/1, is our selection in the latest in our Ladbrokes News vs Pricewise series.

“I’d think long and hard now about dropping back to two miles. I just think the way he runs – attack, attack – maybe a drop in trip will help. What a spectacular seeing him and Sprinter Sacre,” the former Barclays banker stated after the race.

It’s easy to see that his enthusiastic, sometimes hard-pulling front-running style would warrant a step back to the minimum distance; especially given he appeared not to stay 3m in the King George.

And it wouldn’t be the first time he has delivered at Cheltenham over that distance, winning the Champion Bumper and Supreme Novices, before being collared on the line in the Arkle in his three visits to the Festival.

It’s clearly a course the grey loves, and at a nice price looks worth taking the principles on with.

Sprinter Sacre, while he travelled with his old zest for much of his return, failed to see out the test, so would need to show more before getting involved in at 5/2.

Last year’s winner, Sire De Grugy could well shorten if delivering on his first start in 10 months in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in two weeks, but at 9/2 leaves little room for error.

Of the others prominent in the betting, Dodging Bullets is clearly an improved horse this season, but he was nearly 5l behind Champagne Fever in the Arkle last year, and his victory at Ascot last week was his first win in the second half of the season in his whole career.

Al Ferof is in a similar quandary to the selection, regarding dropping back in trip, but at similar odds (10/1), he probably lacks the turn of foot necessary in comparison to Willie Mullins’ charge.

With better ground in his favour, the likely conditions will suit the eight-year-old. He has won five of his eight races between the months of January and March in his career, so clearly comes alive this time of year.

Pricewise’s, Tom Segal may have plumped for a big-price each-way selection in Hidden Cyclone, but here at Ladbrokes News we are sticking with one that knows how to deliver when that famous Cheltenham roar goes up.

Champion Chase

Pricewise’s pick – Hidden Cyclone – 33/1 – 1pt each-way

Ladbrokes News’ pick – Champagne Fever – 8/1 – 2pts win

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

Fancy Champagne Fever to make it three from four at the Festival? Back him now using your free £25 bet and bank a whopping £200 if he comes up the Cheltenham hill in front!



Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.