Champagne to sparkle in Fairyhouse marathon

Champagne James ran well in the four-miler at Cheltenham

Ted Walsh trains Champagne James.

Champagne James

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Betting Tip: Champagne James @ 14/1 with coral

It certainly won’t hurt to be two-handed in such an impossible-looking race, and the other one to back is Ted Walsh’s CHAMPAGNE JAMES. He’s still a novice but that’s been no barrier to success in this race. Indeed, Shutthefrontdoor was the 17th novice to triumph since 1974 and, in common with the previous nine winners, he had raced less than a dozen times over fences. The selection has had just six starts over the bigger obstacles and, while he’s yet to get his head in front, he’s shown more then enough to suggest he has what it takes to win this.

A winner of a bumper and a maiden hurdle, he was always going to make a better chaser and he certainly looked the part when chasing home the very smart Valseur Lido at Punchestown in November on his debut, albeit 11 lengths adrift. He finished no worse than fourth on his next four outings, all over 2m4f or less, but it was his seventh-placed effort in the Kim Muir last time that really caught the eye. Heavily backed into 4/1 favouritism beforehand, he was anchored at the back of the field and, on a day when prominent racers were favoured, he was simply given far too much to do.

More positive tactics are likely to be employed in this race and, while he does have his stamina to prove, he has always given the impression he was running over trips way too short for him. If that was a deliberate ploy by connections they’ve done a good job as he lines up on a mark of just 131, which is very much in keeping with recent winners. The weights look set to rise by at least 10lb but, even so, he’ll still have less than 11st to carry and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t give us a good run for our money deep into the race.

Betting Tip: Champagne James @ 14/1 with coral

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