Champagne Fever: runs in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase next monthPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Fever hardens as Arkle favourite after weekend
CHAMPAGNE FEVER emerged from the weekend in a stronger position at the head of the Racing Post Arkle market despite not setting foot on a racecourse and his trainer Willie Mullins is edging towards the 2m contest for his dual Cheltenham Festival winner.
A number of potential contenders for the Racing Post Arkle were in action on Saturday and Sunday but bookmakers were left shortening Champagne Fever for victory at Cheltenham following the defeats of Defy Logic and Felix Yonger as well as the non-appearance of Rock On Ruby at Doncaster due to the ground.
Paddy Power cut Champagne Fever, winner of the Champion Bumper in 2012 and the Supreme Novices's Hurdle last year, to 5-1 (from 7) for the Arkle while he is 4-1 (from 9-2) with William Hill and Ladbrokes and 9-2 (from 5) with bet365.
Felix Yonger, who finished second to Trifolium in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown, was pushed out to a general 10-1 (from 7) for the Racing Post Arkle while stablemate Mozoltov is 20-1 (from 16) for the same race after finishing third at Leopardstown.
Assessing his runners, Mullins told At The Races: "I don't think Felix Yonger likes that [heavy] ground. He's a good ground horse. I remember when he first came from Howard Johnson's that he was one of the best athletes.
"Mozoltov ran a cracker on only his second start over fences. Both will go up in trip now as they both want two and a half miles.
"Champagne Fever runs next in the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase over two miles five [furlongs] on February 9. Ruby [Walsh] is fairly keen to bring him back to two miles for the Arkle."
The biggest mover in the Racing Post Arkle market was Trifolium, who is a general 8-1 chance (from 25) while Valdez is 12-1 (from 16) after his victory in the Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.
Pricewise, the world's best tipster, reveals his ante-post fancy for the Racing Post Arkle in Tuesday's Racing Post