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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Mullins back at Fever pitchHeadlines
Champagne Fever holds the advantage at the final flight

Champagne Fever returned to winning form when making all the running in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Last season's Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner had run a listless race last time out at Naas, but Willie Mullins' charge bounced back to his best in this Grade One test.

The strongly-fancied Waaheb fell at the second flight when at the rear of the field and the 2-1 favourite brushed aside Bright New Dawn, his only serious challenger, and galloped on strongly to the line in the hands of Paul Townend to score by a length and three-quarters.

Mullins said: "He's back to himself, which is a huge relief after Naas. We just fiddled around a bit with him since then and we waited until this week to give him two bits of work. He really impressed in those two bits, especially in his work on Tuesday.

"We're always afraid when a horse gets an infection like that which might ruin his season. At least he seems to have come back to where he was though.

"It wouldn't be a problem going out in trip with him, but we'll stick to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

"The plan is that Mozoltov, Champagne Fever and Un Atout will run in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Pont Alexandre will run in the Neptune and Ballycasey in the Albert Bartlett.

"It will be tough over there, but you send your best and hope that one of them will draw."

Stan James cut Champagne Fever to 16-1 from 33s for the Supreme, and spokesman Joseph Burke said: "It was a pity that Waaheb exited so early, but it was still a very taking performance and he ground out his victory before keeping Bright New Dawn at bay."

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