Since it was first introduced in 1992, the Champion Bumper has been run as the last race on Wednesday’s card.
The winner of this race promises to be a star of the future and it gives horses a chance to prove their worth against others who haven’t run under rules on the flat or over hurdles. However, some horses have seen obstacles before, with Irish Point-To-Point form regularly appearing in the formbook of runners. In what is essentially a speed test, the race is contested over two miles and half a furlong.
Being the only flat race run at the Festival, the Champion Bumper is most celebrated event of its kind in the entire National Hunt campaign.
- The Weatherbys Champion Bumper is classified as a Grade 1 National Hunt Flat race.
- The race will be contested at a start time of 17:15 on day two of the Cheltenham Festival, which is a Wednesday.
- The race is open to horses aged five years old and above; 5 and 6 year olds carry 11st 5lbs whereas 4 years old have a 7lb allowance. Mares also receive an allowance of 7lbs.
- The race is run over 2 miles and 110 yards (2m 1/2f).
- In purse is £55,000, with the winner taking home in the region of £35,000.
- All of the last 10 winners had previously won a bumper with at least 13 runners.
- 16 of the last 19 winners won last time out, including 9 of the last 10.
- 8 of the last 10 winners have been won by Irish-bred horses.
- 8 of the last 10 winners have been in the first six in the betting.
- 7 of the last 10 winners were trained in Ireland.
- Favourites have a bad record in the race. Only 3 have prevailed in the 19 renewals.
- 6 of the last 9 winners had run in at least three bumpers.
- 3 of the last 4 winners were unbeaten in bumpers.
- 8 of the last 13 winners had run less than 52 days ago.
- 12 of the 19 winners have been 5-year-olds. Just 3 have been 4-year-olds.
- Willie Mullins has trained 6 winners in the last 15 renewals.
Betting on the Champion Bumper
There is never much form to go on in the Champion Bumper, with each horse only appearing a handful of times, if that.
Look for a bumper winner that contains at least 13 runners. If you find that the short-list removes most of the principals, then lower this to 11 or 12 as you want a horse who appears in the top six in the betting market.
A combination of Irish-trained and bred horse that has won last time out and you have a strong candidate for this race.
Willie Mullins has won the race six times. No other trainer has managed success on more than one occassion. The trainer’s big two hopes for 2012 are Champagne Fever and Pique Sous.
Although Cue Card’s win in 2010 at 40/1 is somewhat of an anomaly, horses in the top six in the betting are the ones to side with so it’s best to wait until the day of the race before taking the plunge.
History of the Race
The race, originally known as the ‘Festival Bumper’, had a variety of sponsors in the early 90s before Weatherbys started supporting the event in 1997 and they still sponsor it to the present day.
Despite Irish trainers have a fine record in the race; the last two renewals have gone to the British, with Cheltenian taking the race last year for Phillip Hobbs.
Willie Mullins has often been the hero of this race, training six winners (Wither Or Which – 1996, Florida Pearl – 1997, Alexander Banquet – 1998, Joe Cullen – 2000, Missed That – 2005 and Cousin Vinny – 2008).
Frequently, winners of this race go on to perform well in the biggest races in the National Hunt calendar over hurdles, and eventually chase fences. 1997’s Irish-bred champion Florida Pearl was a subsequent winner of the RSA Chase, King George VI Chase and four Irish Hennessy Gold Cups.