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Champagne Fever delivers for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh in Supreme Novices'

Updated: Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 14:58 | Comments

Champagne Fever and Ruby Walsh push on to win the first race of the Festival
Champagne Fever and Ruby Walsh push on to win the first race of the Festival

Champagne Fever made all of the running to outpoint My Tent Or Yours in the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the opening race of this year's Cheltenham Festival.

Last season's Champion Bumper winner doubled up with a game display under Ruby Walsh to strike for Willie Mullins.

My Tent Or Yours appeared to be going much the better at the final flight, but Champagne Fever (5-1) kept finding more and held the 15-8 favourite by half a length.

Jezki (5-1) was third, a further two and a quarter lengths away, as the big meeting finally got going after a 35-minute delay caused by the Arctic weather.

Ruby Walsh said afterwards: "He jumped like a stag and travelled really well.

It's magic - he just came alive the last fortnight.

"I didn't ride him work last week but I was watching him work at the Curragh with Willie and we both kind of looked at each other. It was scintillating.

"Patrick (Mullins, trainer's son) has always maintained he was a two-miler and an out-and-out galloper - he was dead right.

"He wasn't doing a whole lot in front, but I knew AP (McCoy) was coming to me as I could feel the crowd revving up.

"But, in fairness, when AP got to him, he stuck his head down and away he went again."

"It was a very brave performance from the horse to lead like that and jump like that" - Willie Mullins

"It was a very brave performance from the horse to lead like that and jump like that.

"Ruby said he heard Tony McCoy coming up behind him and the horse just took off with him.

"He knew he'd lots of horse. Ruby was trying to steady it and ride a tactical race - he obviously got it spot-on.

"It was fantastic to watch him coming up the hill."

Willie Mullins added: "It was a very brave performance from the horse to lead like that and jump like that.

"Ruby said he heard Tony McCoy coming up behind him and the horse just took off with him.

"He knew he'd lots of horse. Ruby was trying to steady it and ride a tactical race - he obviously got it spot-on.

"It was fantastic to watch him coming up the hill."

McCoy said of My Tent Or Yours: "I was beaten by a better horse."

Frank Berry, racing manager for My Tent Or Yours' owner JP McManus, said: "AP said there were no excuses and he had every chance up to the last. He jumped great."

Trainer Jessica Harrington made no excuses for Jezki, who also carries the McManus silks.

She said: "He might have missed the last, but up to that he jumped great.

"They went a good gallop, but he kept going all the way to the line and I'm very pleased."

Berry said: "I'd imagine Jezki might go to Punchestown, but we'll see how he comes out of this."

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