Mullins unlikely to rush Fever

Willie Mullins is not planning to rush Champagne Fever back to the top table following his triumphant return to action at Thurles.

Champagne Fever: Listed chase winner at Thurles

Having been sidelined since April of last year, the Boomerang Animal Bedding And Boomerang Horse & Country Store Chase presented the dual Cheltenham Festival hero with the perfect opportunity to make his eagerly-awaited comeback and he was sent off an 11/8 chance in the hands of Ruby Walsh.

After travelling and jumping with his trademark zest throughout the two-and-three-quarter-mile contest, Champagne Fever moved to the lead in the straight and was first pressed by Roi Des Francs before Jim Culloty's 2014 Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere (25/1), also off the track for the best part of 600 days, appeared on the scene.

The long-absent pair settled down to fight it out after the final fence and Champagne Fever had just enough in reserve to take the Listed prize by a head.

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Sky Bet make the Mullins inmate a 16/1 shot for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next March, with Lord Windermere 33/1 for the Welsh Grand National following his hugely encouraging effort.

Mullins said: "He ran a good race for his first run back, which he always does.

"I'll probably look for a similar race for him next over two and a half (miles).

"I think the John Durkan might come too soon and I might also look for something easier than that.

"We'll see how he comes out of this but he might go for a Grade Two or Grade Three.

"I don't know if I can see him being competitive at Grade One level again, but we'll see."

Champagne Fever was the star turn in a treble on the afternoon for the champion trainer and jockey.

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