Champagne team mull chasing
Leading bumper horse Champagne Fever could embark on a novice chasing campaign this season instead of running over hurdles.
The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old suffered just one defeat in four starts in National Hunt Flat events, plundering the major championship bumpers at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring.
Mullins was leaning towards sending his charge over the smaller obstacles this term, but after owner Rich Ricci's Sous Le Cieux suffered a fatal schooling accident earlier this month, plans are set to change.
"I was keen to go over hurdles but unfortunately we lost Sous Les Cieux and Champagne Fever might take his position," the champion trainer told At The Races.
"We're still turning it over in our minds. I'm schooling him over hurdles and fences, so he's well able to jump. He's no problem jumping fences.
"We're working him fairly well but a lot of mine are still a fair bit off a run."
Champagne Fever will not be the first Mullins inmate to head straight from bumpers to fences, with the brilliant Florida Pearl doing the same thing with great success in the late 1990s.