Cheltenham '11 – Champion Bumper

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The Champion Bumper is a Grade 1 National Hunt flat race run on the second day.

Won last year by Cue Card, it’s open to horses aged between four and six years of age, run over the Cheltenham Old course and covers an extended two mile trip.

10 Year Trends:
10/10 – won a bumper with at least thirteen runners
9/10 – had won their last race
9/10 – were aged five or six
Also worthy of note:
Fourteen of the eighteen winners of this race were trained in Ireland.
Only one French bred horse has ever been placed.

Knight Pass – W Greatrex
5yo bay gelding
Accordion (UK) – Toulon Pass (IRE) (Toulon (UK))
The current market leader made his debut at Sandown in early November where drawing effortlessly clear to slam his rivals by eight lengths. Two months on, he was victorious again at Southwell in equally facile fashion. His owner won this race with Monsignor and his trainer rates him very highly but neither race he’s won looks up to much.

Ericht – N Henderson
5yo bay gelding
Alderbrook (UK) – Lady Orla (IRE) (Satco (FR))
Somewhat unlucky to only fill the runners up spot on debut, failing to reel in a horse let loose on the front end. No mistake six weeks later when a comfortable winner at Huntingdon over a reduced trip. Landed the rearranged Grade 2 Winter Bumper finding plenty for pressure when seeing off Bygones In Brid. Looks solid more than spectacular though and as a result, may have to settle for minor places.

Samain – W Mullins
5yo bay gelding
Black Sam Bellamy (IRE) – Selva (IRE) (Darshaan (UK))
Ran a slightly odd race on debut ten months ago when nabbed close home but off the mark earlier this year. That wasn’t a convincing performance but then enhanced his credentials with a much smoother success over the weekend past. Warrants respect hailing from a yard more than familiar with success here, especially as this has looked the plan from a long way out. Three races to date have been in pretty sticky conditions, and I think his current price reflects connections more than performances.

Keys – R Charlton
4yo bay gelding
Doyen (IRE) – Freni (GER) (Sternkoenig (IRE))
Did well to come out on top in a Ffos Las bumper having pulled very hard in the early stages. Looked a real prospect weeks later when gliding through the mud to notch a second win. A step up to listed company followed. Did extremely well to win, showing a great attitude in the process, when bumped numerous times, in a prolonged battle up the Cheltenham Hill. Yet to race at two miles and beyond however, but indications it won’t be a problem, can be sought from that last race. Work cut out here as four year olds tend to struggle.

[frame_right src=”http://www.cheltenhamtips.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Persian-Snow1-150×150.jpg” href=”#”]Persian Snow[/frame_right]

Persian Snow – P Hobbs
5yo bay gelding
Anshan (UK) – Alpine Message (UK) (Tirol (GER))
Initially unfortunate to come down in a point to point when well in control. Shortly after moving to Hobbs, was given a promising review by his new trainer, with a novice hurdle campaign the plan. However, when proving too strong for a well-supported rival at Ascot, that plan was shelved. A shade green throughout, he travelled beautifully and really lengthened clear. The second won next time out by a wide margin and the third found success over obstacles soon after. A return to Ascot last week, proved less fruitful though, when only managing third in a six runner affair behind Mono Man. Did look unquestionably unfit beforehand, ill at ease on the ground, unsuited by a lack of pace and was spared a hard time by Richard Johnson. Far too soon to write off.

Others of note:
Allure Of Illusion put in a nice performance to come out on top back in August. He’s nicely bred and merits respect given his trainer but has not been seen since. However, has been well supported in recent days and that could be an ominous sign. Another of the Mullins brigade, Lovethehigherlaw, made a debut full of promise too. He cruised through that race and barely needed shaking up to take command. Hit The Headlines was an impressive winner of a Huntingdon bumper but hasn’t fulfilled prospective entries since and is hard to evaluate in comparison to stables other entries. One of which is Mono Man who destroyed his opponents in an apprentice bumper and lowered the colours of Persian Snow a week ago. Work cut out to confirm that form should he line up but every chance he’ll bypass the meeting. Bygones In Brid was picked up by Harry Redknapp after a Musselburgh success and received a promising review from Alan King during a recent interview. He travelled really well and was saved a hard race, when behind Ericht at Newbury which makes him an interesting contender should he line up. Cheltenian should have won on debut at Punchestown but combination of horse and jockey conspired to throw the race away. He was picked up by Hobbs after that effort and made no mistake second time round when winning at Kempton two weeks ago. Hobbs looks to hold a strong hand here, with Fingal Bay another string to his bow. He cantered home, a country mile ahead of the opposition, ten days ago but that was on pretty soft going. Ebanour had entries for both the English and Irish Derby when with Oxx on the flat but never saw a racetrack. He was a big whisper horse prior to his recent debut and didn’t disappoint. He’s clearly had his problems though and given his limited experience, it wouldn’t be a great surprise were connections to sidestep Cheltenham. Finally, not in the Champion Bumper market as yet, but keep an eye on the beautifully bred Mozoltov who races later today in the Thurles finale and could stake a claim.

Verdict:
It may be an open renewal but it doesn’t appear a high quality one. It’s rarely a race I’ll play antepost but this time I made an exception; Persian Snow looked a horse with real potential when winning at Ascot last year and as a result, was held back with this race in mind. The form, though slightly dented since, was strong and in winning, he set a very impressive figure. The comments from the yard, then and since were highly encouraging and although he was ultimately disappointing when returning last week, there is every reason to believe he’ll be a different horse come the big day. His prices after that reverse vary, but as a result, in some places, he is hugely over-priced. He doesn’t meet any of the highlighted trends, age aside, but I’m sticking by him anyway. Mullins has what appears a strong hand, and Lovethehigherlaw looks the pick of his potential entrants but in truth, it’s hard to really rule any of the principals out with any confidence. As a result, the only other mention I’ll give is to another Hobbs runner, Fingal Bay. He was so impressive on debut that he must enter calculations but I’d want similar conditions to materialise here, as to the ones he encountered at Exeter, so I would only advise backing him on or close to the day should that look likely of materializing.

[notification_box]1pt each-way Persian Snow @ 33/1 with Coral. [/notification_box]

Racing and breeding enthusiast, racehorse owner, semi-professional gambler and an opiniated, verbose, pain in the arse, now trying to make his way in the murky world of law. To be honest, I'm far more interested in flat racing, particularly the Juddmonte Farms operation and the juvenile division; As such, the race that most interests me at the Cheltenham Festival would have to be the Champion Bumper. You 'could' follow me on twitter and facebook, but it really wouldn't be worth your while!!

9 Comments

  1. Ericht is a confirmed runner in the race, despite Henderson not liking the race as a whole. My selection though has to be Samain who looked really impressive last time and hails from the powerful stable of Willie Mullins who usually farms this race.

    Persian Snow looked beaten on merit last time so the comments of him looking unfit beforehand are interesting and worth taking note of. Were you at the course for that run then, or is that second hand information DB?

    Ben

  2. A friend of mine is an avid paddock watcher and was at Ascot on Saturday Ben. He was also at Ascot back in late October so knew what the horse looked like previously. He said Persian Snow didn’t look great in his coat on either occasion but this time round, looked unfit and short of work. (May explain the addition of a tongue tie.) On that basis, I’m hoping that run was to help get him spot on for mid-March as there was no report of any setbacks in between, but I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks time.

  3. Lovethehigherlaw was my fancy until Samain impressed on Sunday past. Not sure which one will triumph but Willie Mullins will be keen to win it for the first time in a few years!

  4. I’ve just backed Ericht at 12/1. He is a lovely small compact horse which will be ideally suited to the hustle and bustle of Cheltenham. He has plenty of class and is just the sort needed for this race.

    His biggest challenge will come from Ireland but quite which one is Willie Mullins best remains to be seen, from the formbook it seems to be Lovethehigherlaw but it’s always hard second guessing.

    Donal McCains, Ebanour has regal breeding and has always been well regarded and comes from the master John Oxx. He could be anything and is worth considering in any saver bets

  5. I think Mullins has a strong hand here and I’m on Lovethehigherlaw who I believe is the best of his bunch.

    Persian Snow is an interesting shout and you’ve made a good case for him so I’m about to go and have a little bet at fancy odds in the hope he chases my fancy home.

  6. With Lovethehigherlaw myself. The horse he beat on debut has a tall reputation himself, and some big owners were looking to buy him off the Faheys after that run. They declined and kept him and won a decent looking race next time out.

    The form looks pretty strong and I’d be surprised if Mullins had one better than him at this stage.

  7. NAP of the meeting has to be Knight Pass for me – best bumper horse I have seen in a while. He oozes class and has a real good turn of foot given he is bred to stay 3m+ (from the family of Harbour Pilot & Monty’s Pass) so the hill won’t be an issue. Warren Greatrex has done a good job with him so far and won’t hear of him being beat.

  8. Firstly, a very good overview of the race. I have to say i also like the look of Knight Pass. The recent win in good company by Sire De Grugy has really gave the form a nice boost and can see him running a big race.

  9. Quick update :
    Keys has been ruled out through injury and Lovethehigherlaw will not be taking his chance.

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