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Champagne and Jezki Renew Old Rivalry

At the Cheltenham Festival five weeks ago, it was the Willie Mullins-trained Champagne Fever who stole the show with a tremendous performance to land the William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle. But, at Punchestown on Tuesday, third-placed Jezki is out for sweet revenge.

The opening day of what promises to be a fabulous Punchestown Festival has a number of outstanding contests – none more so than the presence of the mighty Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase.

However, for many, it will be the latest head-to-head between two strong favourites in the Punchestown Festival odds, Champagne Fever and Jezki, in the Grade 1 Herald Champion Novice Hurdle that might prove the highlight on the card.

Two-and-three-quarter lengths separated the pair when they were first and third respectively in the two-mile Cheltenham contest, and at level terms many will expect that finishing order to be maintained.

Things very much went the way of Champagne Fever through being left to dominate with a bold front-running performance, and should the opposing jockeys at Punchestown want to try to expose any frailties in the winner of three starts already this term, they might just take him on for the lead.

Throughout the Festival 2013 April 23rd-27th, Money Back Mullins: If your selection finishes 2nd to a Willie Mullins-trained winner, Bet Victor will refund your losing win stake up to £25 as a free Punchestown Festival bet. With Champagne Fever representing the champion trainer, this looks an offer worth taking.

Jessica Harrington’s Jezki met his first defeat over hurdles at the hands of Champagne Fever last month and it may prove significant that connections are keen to have another crack at the grey. Two Grade 1 wins in December – including a length-and-a-half defeat of Champagne Fever at Fairyhouse – suggest there will be very little between the pair once again in this decider in this ‘best of three’ contest. 

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