The Champion Bumper has often proven a mysterious puzzle to solve since its addition to the Cheltenham Festival and you need not look further than the returned SP’s of the last 10 winners – only three of them (last of those in 2009) have returned at 10/1 or less.
- Horses with the (IRE) suffix have won 17 of the last 22 renewals
- Mullins has trained by far the most winners, and when we add the successes of his compatriots over the Irish Sea we have 17 of the last 21 winners coming from the Emerald Isle
- As you would expect, last time out winners and unbeaten horses have an excellent record, and of those that have tasted defeat all 10 of the last 10 winners of this race won their most recent start.
- It seems to be an advantage to have winning form going left-handed
- 10 of the last 10 winners had been sired by a Group 1 or Group 2 winner on the flat.
Martaline (17.2f) — Didinas (FR) (Kaldou Star)
Notes: A gelded son of Martaline with quite the reputation who made light work of his opposition when successful on his debut at Punchestown in November. He followed up that victory by enhancing his record with a further victory at Navan in December putting away a very fair rival in the shape of Attribution. Mullins feels he is capable on all sorts of ground and has seen support on Oddschecker in the last couple of days so has clearly been going well at home too. High on the shortlist.
Darsi (FR) — Minnie O´Grady (IRE) (Welsh Term (10.5f))
Notes: Yet another exciting type to hail from the Willie Mullins yard, who has made quite an impression on his two outings to date. Starting off at Thurles in December (similar to 2013 winner Briar Hill did), he followed up an impressive victory by blasting clear of a highly-regarded horse in Space Cadet at Naas at the start of this month, and will have absolutely no problem with a strong pace or quicker ground next month.
Dansili (9.3f) — Magnolia Lane (IRE) (Sadler´s Wells (USA) (11.4f))
Notes: Was the subject of quite a gamble in this race 12 months ago and has been kept back from hurdling with this race in mind. He was to the fore of a strongly-run race and failed to last home against the more stamina-laden types and there has to be a concern the same may happen again. He is without doubt a high-class individual but I can certainly see one or two being too strong for him at the finish.
Saffron Walden (FR) (13.6f) — Angel´s Folly (Wesaam (USA))
Notes: Purchased for £225,000 in the spring after bolting up in somewhat of a surprise on debut at Fairyhouse, he continued his education with a bloodless success on first start for David Pipe at Cheltenham in October, drawing on to win by twelve lengths. There was rumours about him going hurdling at one point but has been kept back with this race in mind, and looks likely to take high rank. Slight concern over why we haven’t seen him since October which half puts me off, and there seems to be better bets at around the same sort of price in the race.
Robin Des Champs (FR) — Amber Light (IRE) (Anshan (9.3f))
Notes: Another recruit for the Mullins team who have an embarrassment of riches in almost every division at The Festival this season. Green on his debut at Fairyhouse and idling once hitting the front he improved nicely on that effort with a double-digit win at Gowran Park towards the end of January. Might lack the class of a couple of his stablemates but certainly has chances in what looks a wide open race as you’d expect.
WAIT FOR ME
Saint Des Saints (FR) — Aulne River (FR) (River Mist (USA) (10.6f))
Notes: Caught the eye when making a winner debut at Ascot on Valentine’s Day running a good figure in the process. There was plenty to like about the way he did things that day and certainly looks one of the best chances we have got of wrestling the prize away from the Mullins/Irish challenge. Philip Hobbs won this race with Cheltenian in 2011 so will know just what he needs to win a race of this nature – highly respected.
UP FOR REVIEW
Presenting (13.8f) — Coolsilver (IRE) (Good Thyne (USA) (14.1f))
Notes: The manner in which he quickened off a strong pace when streaking away from his opposition on his debut at Leopardstown was quite a sight. The fifth has won since and he was some 23 lengths behind Up For Review in that contest. It is still unknown just how good Up For Review is based on just this one start, but I really liked that effort and the prospect of better ground being by Presenting (who also does well with runners at track).
See The World was most impressive with his extraordinary performance at Wincanton towards the end of January. If you haven’t seen the race the replay is a recommended watch – could be anything and ha to be respected.
Yanworth looked really good in winning his first two races but had no visible excuses when beaten by Supasundae at Ascot when the pair last met in December, and although he is worth campaigning at this race it is hard to see him being good enough.
Supasundae has shown fair form so far and improved for the switch to Andrew Balding when beating Yanworth at Ascot the last day. Has plenty of class although has a few pounds of improvement to find to mix it with the Mullins battalion based on what I’ve seen so far this season.
Balko Des Flos made his national hunt flat debut in January at Leopardstown and showed a likeable attitude to open his account at the first time of asking. He has plenty of size about him and the stronger pace likely at Cheltenham is another which should suit him more so than this stop-start affair. He is open to plenty of improvement and has to be respected if he lines up.
Willie Mullins as you’d expect has yet another strong hand in a race which he has done so well in over the years, with 4 winners in the last 10 years.
There has been plenty of support for Bordini on Oddschecker in the last 48hrs and you’d have to imagine that is looking like the stable first string at this stage. He is without doubt a horse with considerable potential and one which heads to The Festival at the peak of his powers.
Pylonthepressure has looked superb in his two victories to date and is another to head to The Festival with rather excellent claims. He looked more at ease on the better ground last time out, and there is a possibility he could well improve further for even quicker conditions in a months’ time.
Supasundae, Vigil, Stone Hard and Moon Racer are others to be respectful of, however I fear personally that each will come up just short of the level required to win a race of this standing.
The one which has really caught my eye is the Mullins trained UP FOR REVIEW who made a real impression on me with a powerful success at Leopardstown in January, and with expected improvement from first to second run would be right in the mix with the more experienced types. He is by Presenting whose progeny have often done well at this track and looks the type to appreciate decent spring jumping ground and the likely fast pace on offer.
I will however been including a further bet on Pylonthepressure who is another to have impressed me this campaign, and I’ll be splitting the stakes between the pair.