Willie Mullins waits on Ascot decision

Willie Mullins will wait until later in the week before deciding whether to let Champagne Fever or Ballycasey contest Saturday’s Betfair Ascot Chase.

The Rich Ricci-owned pair feature among seven entries for this weekend’s Grade One feature in Berkshire after the race was reopened and both are also in contention to run closer to home on the same afternoon, having been entered for the Red Mills Chase.

Ireland’s champion trainer will assess the entries for the two races before making running plans.

He said: “I haven’t seen the entries yet, so I’ll have a look and see what we think.

“I was happy with both horses this morning.”

Champagne Fever, a former winner of the Champion Bumper and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, was only narrowly denied a Cheltenham Festival hat-trick in last season’s Arkle Trophy.

The eight-year-old made a winning return in the Clonmel Oil Chase, but seemingly failed to get home over three miles in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and suffered a last-fence fall when upsides Don Cossack in last month’s Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles.

A return to Prestbury Park next month appears likely, but Mullins insists it is not imperative he has another run beforehand.

“I don’t think he has to have a run. We can do the work on the schooling ground,” said Mullins.

“We’re just going to see what the entries are like (for Saturday’s races). That will be the main thing.”

Champagne Fever and Ballycasey are among seven possibles for the Ascot Chase.

Prolific novice Ptit Zig is Paul Nicholls’ potential representative, while his great rival Nicky Henderson has entered Ma Filleule and Rajdhani Express.

The Alan King-trained Balder Succes and Theatre Guide from Colin Tizzard’s yard complete the list.

SOURCE: http://www1.skysports.com/racing/news/12426/9708560/willie-mullins-waits-on-ascot-decision