The Weatherbys Champion Bumper Open NH Flat Race (5:15pm) is a Class A Grade 1 flat race run over two miles and about half a furlong. It is open to horses aged between 4 and 6 years old.
The total prize fund in 2015 is £65,000 and the race will be run on Wednesday, March 11.
The Champion Bumper is the only flat race run at the Festival and as well as some of the most exciting young horses in training the race now also attracts some of the best jockeys from the Flat, including Jamie Spencer who won the 2002 renewal on board Pizarro.
Since 1992, 11 Champion Bumper winners have returned to the Festival the next year, three of whom won their Festival race (Montelado won the Supreme Novice Hurdle, Florida Pearl won the RSA Chase and Monsignor won what is now the Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle) and two others were placed.
With the future in mind it is also worth keeping an eye not just on the placed horses but also on some of the horses further back in the field, as the race is bound to throw up some future big race winners. Trabolgen, French Holly, Iris’s Gift, Thisthatandtother, Rhinestone Cowboy, Wichita Lineman, Albertas Run and Fiveforthree to name but a few, were all beaten in their renewal of the Bumper but subsequently went on to make big names for themselves over hurdles or fences.
2014 Silver Concorde
2013 Briar Hill
2012 Champagne Fever
2010 Cue Card
2008 Cousin Vinny
2007 Cork All Star
2006 Hairy Molly
2005 Missed That
2004 Total Enjoyment
2000 Joe Cullen
1998 Alexander Banquet
1997 Florida Pearl
1996 Wither Or Which
1995 Dato Star
1993 Rhythm Section
1. The first winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper was Montelado, who achieved what is thought to be the unique feat of winning two consecutive Festival races. The Bumper, now run on Wednesday, was originally the last race of The Festival. Montelado went on to win the opening race of the The Festival in 1993, the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
2. Irish-trained runners have a great record in the race, accounting for 15 of the 19 winners. Willie Mullins has incredibly saddled sseven winners - he also rode his first winner of the race, the 1996 scorer Wither Or Which, while his son Patrick was in the saddle when Cousin Vinny won for the stable in 2008.
3. The four horses to have kept the trophy at home were Dato Star in 1995, Monsignor, who sprang a 50/1 surprise in 1999, Liberman, who gave Martin Pipe his first and only win in the race in 2003, and last year’s 40/1 winner Cue Card.
2012 Champion Bumper Review
CHAMPAGNE FEVER provided trainer Willie Mullins with yet another success (seven and counting!), but he was the stable second-string on jockey bookings and according to the market, with his stablemate Pique Sous (12/1) preferred by Ruby Walsh on the day.
The talking horse before the race was New Year's Eve, who had won his two previous bumpers, and he was punted into 9/2 favouritism. He was the first to challenge the winner, who was always in front, but couldn't peg him back and went down by a length and a quarter.
Pique Sous, who appeared to have every chance over one furlong out, kept on well to finish third just a head behind the runner-up. Moscow Mannon (8/1) did best of the remainder, albeit four lengths behind the third.
2011 Champion Bumper Review
The final race on the card on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival was the Champion Bumper and with previous winners Dunguib and Cue Card both moving onto bigger and better things after 2009 and 2010, it was a race that was eagerly anticipated.
Turning for home it looked to be a battle between Destroyer Deployed, Aupcharlie, Cinders and Ashes and Cheltenian and it was the latter that came out on top in a thrilling renewal of the race. Some of the race's well backed horses were left well out of the places and it appeared to be as unpredictable a race as ever.
2010 Champion Bumper Review
Not only did CUE CARD blow his rivals away with an astonishing win in this season's Festival Bumper he also blew away history by becoming the first non Irish trained winner of this race since Liberman in 2003, and the first four year old to succeed since Dato Star in 1995. And what a way to do it: he scarcely came of the bridle and had sixteen lengths between himself and Frawley back in third.
The winner who had won his only previous start, at Fontwell, has always been highly regarded by his connections and will surely go on to great things over hurdles as he has speed to burn but yet was not stopping on the punishing climb to the line.
Al Ferof made it a one-two for the home contingent by chasing the winner up the hill, albeit at a respectable distance. He led for much of the way so this was a fine effort and he simply lacked the electrifying pace of the winner. He was well clear of the third and looks a fine chasing prospect.
Best of the Irish was the somewhat unheralded, but relatively experienced, Frawley. He seemed to cope fine with the quicker surface here and like many of these will be suited by a step up in trip when he goes hurdling.
Tavern Times breeding suggested he would be suited by underfoot conditions and he was backed accordingly. He didn't get the clearest of runs, but ran on well enough at the death.
Megastar (fifth) was one of those to catch the eye as he made up ground in the home straight, whilst Dare Me (sixth) travelled well for much of the contest before fading in the closing stages. Both look worth following.
Of the others, Elegant Concorde (12th) looked to be still going okay when badly bumped over two furlongs out. If the race hasnt left its mark on him he should pay his way over hurdles next season.
The favourite, Shot From The Hip (20th) pulled too hard and ruined his chances as a result.
2009 Champion Bumper Review
A truly great day’s racing was finished off in style by DUNGUIB who put up a breathtaking performance to claim the concluding Bumper to confirm himself as a very exciting prospect indeed.
Always travelling kindly through the race, Dunguib powered clear two furlongs out, when his young jockey finally gave him his head. The decent ground here clearly suited just as well, if not better, than the very soft surfaces he has been running on previously and on this evidence he will be very hard to beat in next season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle.
The rest were playing for second from a long way out and Some Present finally secured that berth after a decent tussle with Rite Of Passge in the final furlong. The runner up ran slightly green, both when rounding the final bend and when coming under pressure in the closing stages, so there could be more to come from him.
Rite Of Passage boxed on well for third after trying to go with the winner turning in. He may well stay further in time and has a likeable attitude.
Quel Esprit proved best of the eight runners trained by Willie Mullins. He has clearly been showing plenty at home as he was Ruby Walsh’s pick, but after travelling nicely for the early part of the race he was caught a bit flat footed at the business end of the contest. He already has a point to point victory to his name so his future lies over further and / or fences.
There was a long way back to the fifth, the mare, Morning Supreme who led for much of the way but ruined her chances by pulling too hard early on. In the circumstances, she did well to finish as close as she did.
Cranky Corner caught the eye in seventh. He was going as well as anything bar the leader at the bottom of the hill, but weakened in the final furlong. He likes good ground and will jump fences in time.
Amazingly, you had to go back to the ninth placed horse, Pepe Simo, to find the first of the home trained contingent.
A couple were heavily eased once their chances had gone, most notably Sicilian Secret (who is nicely bred for this game) and Henry KIng. Both could yet have bright futures.
2008 Champion Bumper Review
A fiercely competitive renewal of the Festival bumper, with all but two of the field having been successful on their previous start. However, if this in theory made picking the winner more difficult than ever, there was one thing punters could rely on and that was that this race has become a benefit for the Irish in recent years.
Indeed, this year they enjoyed a clean sweep, with COUSIN VINNY leading home Corskeagh Royale and Zaarito. In fact, Irish runners filled six of the first seven places.
This was only the winner’s second start and he showed plenty signs of greenness on the run in, veering badly left under pressure. However, he was a comfortable winner in the end and looks a very smart prospect. His victory was a particularly sweet one for trainer Willie Mullins, who has dominated this race since its inception, as Cousin Vinny was ridden by his son, Patrick.
Corskeagh Royale looked likely to benefit from the winner’s greenness half way up the run in, but there were no excuses for the runner up and he was beaten fair and square. He travelled like a good horse throughout the contest and should win plenty of races in the future.
Zaarito was a well backed favourite going into the race having been unbeaten on three previous starts. Again, he lost little in defeat but just lacked the winner’s turn of foot. The worry is that he doesn’t appear to have quite as much scope as some of the horses who finished around him.
Of those further back, Shoreacres, in fourth, was best of the home contingent. He didn’t have the clearest of passages through the race and probably deserved to finish closer to the front three. He too hung left on the run in.
Meanwhile, Cockney Trucker (eighth) and Mahonia (twelve) are worth noting for the future. The latter stayed on in eye-catching fashion at the death, whilst the former faded after racing prominently throughout. Both may prefer a sounder surface and should improve with time.
2007 Champion Bumper Review
The Festival bumper is one of the most eagerly anticipated races of the meeting, not just because of the interest in the race itself but also because of the future champions it so often unearths.
As befits a race of this name, the field looked as strong as ever, with over half the field boasting unbeaten records and one of those, CORK ALL STAR, was successful again here to prove himself the best horse of his type around. Despite his Flat pedigree, he ran on strongly to prove he has a potent mix of speed and stamina. The fact that he has also now won twice at Cheltenham also bodes well for his future in championship races.
Runner up Sophocles is also Flat bred and he lacks the size and scope of many of his rivals here. However, this was a tremendous effort and he did by far the best of the four year olds. Having run on strongly from well off the pace he would surely have got even closer to the winner had he not veered badly left on the run in under his inexperienced rider.
Aranleigh looked beaten turning for home but also stayed on strongly to claim third. He should improve when stepped up in trip over hurdles. Softer ground also suits and it is easy to see him running up a sequence in novice events in Ireland next season.
The mare, Shirley Casper was fourth. She has already won a point to point and so is another who will only improve when switched to hurdling. She also has the size and scope to jumps fences, a comment that applies equally to Crocodiles Rock who eventually finished sixth after helping to set the pace for a long way.
The well backed favourite, Mad Fish, travelled well for a long way and was not beaten far in eighth. In time, he may prove to be better than he showed here.
Off the rest, Lodge Lane, Isn’t That Lucky and Berings Express are all worthy of mention. For various reasons, all three didn’t help themselves by hanging right at different stages of the race. However, they had all travelled well enough to suggest that they have the talent to bounce back and win races in the future.
2006 Champion Bumper Review
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.