/ Racing

Champagne celebration for Mullins clan

Updated: Wednesday, 14 Mar 2012 17:46

Champagne Fever and Patrick Mullins
Champagne Fever and Patrick Mullins

Ireland finally picked up a winner on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival when Champagne Fever won the Weatherbys Champion Bumper for Willie Mullins.

Mullins has farmed the Grade One event since its inception and gave his son Patrick the leg-up aboard this 16-1 shot.

Mullins jnr decided to take them all on, leading from the off as well-supported favourite New Year's Eve was dropped into the pack.

Barry Geraghty looked to be going ominously well on the John Ferguson-trained favourite at the top of the hill and he made his break for the lead some way out.

However, Champagne Fever was not for passing and he bravely stuck his head out to prevail by a length and a quarter from New Year's Eve.

Mullins perceived first string Pique Sous finished third, just a head adrift.

Afterwards, Mullins senior said: "Both of them ran a cracker and we just said we'd be positive on this fellow.

"I'm delighted, especially with the way a few of mine were running, we were getting despondent.

"This horse gallops and he has a huge cruising speed. That's where we went wrong the first day as we waited with him, so the next day he made all and we decided we'd do the same today.

"He's going to be a big light-framed horse all his life I think, I hope so as they are easier to keep sound than those big, heavier horses."

The trainer continued: ""I'm delighted for the owners, they have a lot of horses with me and it is very nice to get them a winner here.

"Pique Sous has run a cracker, too. He cruised down the hill and he is one that will go to Punchestown.

"We've all had an up and down 24 hours, and you always hope something comes right."

The winning rider said: "I thought my two rides earlier in the week were my best two chances - one pulled up and one fell.

"I said before this lad reminds me of Quel Esprit. He cruises along, he doesn't really have a turn of foot but has a very long stride and kept that up the whole way.

"He kept on finding once the other horse got to me."

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