The Champion Bumper is the only National Hunt Flat race run at the Festival, and is a relatively new race having first been run in 1992. Entrants can be four, five or six years old. The race is one of a handful of bumpers to carry Grade One status and is run over two miles and half a furlong, with the hill making it seem further! The winner of the race will almost immediately become one of the leading fancies for the next year’s Supreme Novice Hurdle, although several bumper winners will need further than two miles in time.
The race is often too much for a young horse in the dawn of its career, and several contenders will arrive with tall reputations that they are unable to live up to. Run at a searching gallop unlike the vast majority of bumpers in the UK and Ireland, the test is totally different to what many of the horses have experienced in their short careers – much like the Epsom Derby, you are never really sure if a horse will handle the bumper until they have run in it.
The trainer who appears to have found the magic formula for the bumper winner is Irish handler Willie Mullins. With the race barely 20 years old it is scarcely believable that one man could have carried off the winners prize eight times! Mullins won the race four times between 1996 and the millennium, including with the top class Florida Pearl in 1997. He regularly enters large numbers of runners for the race and as such it can be difficult to figure out his main hope, although two of his last three winners have been ridden by his son, Patrick. No other trainer has won the race more than once, with neither Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson on the roll of honour.
As mentioned, the history of the Champion Bumper is short in comparison to many of the Festival races. Weatherbys have sponsored the race since 1997, the year of probably the event’s best winner in Florida Pearl. Four jocks have won the race twice- Richard Dunwoody, Paul Carberry and Charlie Swann joining young Patrick Mullins in completing a brace. One flat jockey has even nipped over to Cheltenham to ride the bumper winner – Jamie Spencer persuading Pizarro to just about stay straight enough to deny Rhinestone Cowboy in 2002.
Dermot Weld was the latest trainer to add his name to the role of honour, preparing Silver Concorde to win the 2014 renewal.
- 2015 Champion Bumper Preview
- 2014 Champion Bumper Preview
- 2013 Champion Bumper Preview
- 2012 Champion Bumper Preview
- 2011 Champion Bumper Preview
- 2010 Champion Bumper Preview
|2014||Silver Concorde||6||D Weld||16-1|
|2013||Briar Hill||5||W Mullins||25-1|
|2012||Champagne Fever||5||W Mullins||16-1|
|2010||Cue Card||4||C Tizzard||40-1|
|2008||Cousin Vinny||5||W Mullins||12-1|
|2007||Cork All Star||5||Ms J Harrington||11-2|
|2006||Hairy Molly||6||J Crowley||33-1|
|2005||Missed That||6||W Mullins||7-2F|
|2004||Total Enjoyment||5||T Cooper||7-1|
|2000||Joe Cullen||5||W Mullins||14-1|