2006 Champion Bumper Review

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: Runners pass the grandstand in The Spinal Research Supreme Novices' Hurdle Race at Cheltenham racecourse on March 16, 2010 in Cheltenham, England (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images)

Once again, the Champion Bumper was dominated by the Irish, although perhaps not by one of the horses most punters thought would take the honours.

HAIRY MOLLY, a 33-1 shot whose trainer Joe Crowley is the father-in-law of Aidan O’Brien, had shown plenty of stamina in winning two of his four previous races and was clearly suited by the stiff uphill finish. He took the lead going well coming down the hill and stayed on strongly to repel the late challenges of Pressgang (second) and Kicks For Free (third). He is a three-mile chaser in the making.

Hairy Molly’s victory meant Paul Carberry completed a first and last race double on day two of the Festival.

Pressgang gave trainer Paul Webber another close second in the race after De Soto last year. He looked to be going better than the winner turning for home, but his greenness counted against him as he hung right up the straight losing balance and momentum at a crucial point. Connections were left to rue the fact that they couldn’t get another race into the horse before the Festival.

Perce Rock, in fourth, was another to run green. He would also have preferred softer ground, but remains a serious prospect for the future.

Sandwiched in between was Kicks For Free in third. He’d been hugely impressive in winning his previous two starts, but was beaten on merit here.

Dancing Hero, Lord Over and Female all looked short of pace, and can improve when stepped up in trip over hurdles, whilst Burnt Oak was one of several runners in behind to take the eye. There should be plenty of races to be won with him in the future.

There was no apparent excuse for the flop of the well backed favourite, Equus Maximus.

Triple Epsom Derby winning jockey Johnny Murtagh was also out of luck on his first ride at the Festival. Murtagh, the former Irish champion jockey on the Flat in his native Ireland, finished unplaced on the Willie Mullins trained Ballytrim.

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