The Weatherbys Champion Bumper was first run in 1992 and was initially known as the Festival Bumper. It has been sponsored by Weatherbys since 1997.
It is the most prestigious flat race in the jumps calendar and often features horses who go on to become leading performers over jumps. Florida Pearl, Cue Card and Dunguib are three who have done this.
The majority of the winners have been five or six. Three four year-olds, Rhythm Section in 1993, Dato Star in 1995 and Cue Card in 2010 have broken their dominance.
One interesting stat is that amateur jockeys have won six out of the last eleven runnings of the race.
- 11/12 WERE AGED 5 OR 6
- ONLY 1 OF THE LAST 12 FAVS HAVE WON
- 12/12 WON ON THEIR LAST RUN BEFORE CHELTENHAM
- 12/12 WINNERS HAD AT LEAST ONE RUN AND ONE WIN THAT SEASON
None of the runners are allowed to have run more than four times beforehand. Half of the past twelve winners have only run once.
Irish trained horses have won 19 of the last 26 runnings and Willie Mullins has been responsible for nine of these.
The ante-post market for this race is always very hard to weigh up as the potential winner of the race may not have run yet. I have two selections from a value perspective and hopefully will put the punter in clover leading up to St Patrick’s weekend.
As I have already mentioned four year olds are an exception to the rule in relation to trying to find the winner for this race unless they are extremely classy animals. Cue Card turned out to be people’s favourite after winning the Champion Bumper in 2010 as a four year old.
On Thyestes day Gowran Park witnessed for me the bumper performance of the season when Patrick Mullins took a wide course throughout and stretched clear up the straight to win very easily on Blue Sari.
Since that race Blue Sari has recently been acquired by the Martinstown supremo JP Mc Manus. Willie Mullins was very impressed and commented after the race :
“That was very good. We thought he’d stay alright but we weren’t sure he had any speed. He certainly is way better on grass than he is at home on our gallops. It looked a top notch performance. That’s certainly way over and above anything he does at home so we’re very pleased with him. I thought the soft ground would suit him.
All his work at home has been very dour but that looked special so I’m looking forward to him for the rest of the season. He never showed us that at home. He’s very workmanlike at home but there he looks to have a bit of class about him. The owners had Twinlight with me before. They have a lot of horses in training in France.
We might look at the four-year-old bumper at Limerick. I don’t know if there is much around the country for Cheltenham so he could very possibly go there but normally with four-year-olds we’d go to Limerick.” Trainer WP Mullins
For a horse that does very little at home it was quite an eye catching performance. He looks like he could be in the “anything” category and could brighten up the Cotswolds with an outstanding performance.
Blue Sari at 5/1
This horse has really impressed me this season with his gutsy attitude. In both his races he has stayed on strongly when challenged. At Cheltenham in October he finished second when he was literally outbattled close home. I would think pure rawness beat him that day and Colin Tizzard would still have been very happy.
He then went back to Cheltenham in November and the Racing Post comments describing the horse are noticeable. “Leggy and Athletic” were the two words used. I would think this horse still has to grow into his frame but he hasn’t run since he won his bumper in November so Colin Tizzard is giving him plenty of time to progress.
The fourth and fifth horses that day have won since so the form holds some substance. I think his double figure price is a bit too high considering he is a course winner and that can count for plenty when we get to the festival in March.
Master Debonair at 16/1