What are the best bets for the Champion Bumper?
17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race), 2m1/2f
Last year’s 1-2-3: Moon Racer (9/2), Modus (33/1), Wait For Me (9/1) – 23 ran.
Moon Racer stopped the rot for punters when obliging as favourite (9/2) 12 months ago, following a run of five consecutive double-figure priced winners, with the Pipe horse leading a British clean sweep of the first four places. That also made it three winners apiece for Britain and Ireland in the last six years in a race the Irish have traditionally dominated and the home team looks strong this time around. Ballyandy leads the way and he’s also one of the most experience in the field, having run in four bumpers, winning three of them, and he was very impressive when defying a penalty at Newbury last time. His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies considers him “very special and he looks a worthy favourite. Top price: 6/1 bet365 NRNB Best Odds Guaranteed.
Who else is fancied?
The list of challengers with legitimate claims is a lengthy one but the Willie Mullins-trained Augusta Kate is a good place to start. One of two mares in the race (so in receipt of the 7lb allowance) , she has won both her bumper starts by an aggregate margin of 30 lengths, with the second of them coming in a Listed event at Navan where she thrashed Cashelard Lady, who has advertised the form since. Mullins isn’t prone to hyperbole and on the odd occasion he does talk one up – as with Douvan last season – he’s normally proved right, so the fact he describes this daughter of Featherd Lady as an “extraordinary mare” is praise indeed.
And the rest?
Mullins can also call upon Avenir D’Une Vie, who could be a rare Champion Bumper runner for Gigginstown House Stud, Bacardys, Battleford, Castello Sforza, Turcagua and Very Much So in his bid to break his own record of eight previous winners. They all have winning bumper form and the trainer has won this previously with second, third and fourth-strings, so I’m not ruling any out here.
But the Irish challenge is not all about Mullins and the unbeaten New To This Town looks a big player and is third favourite in most lists. His trainer Jessica Harrington, who won the 2007 version of this race with Cork All Star, has won six bumpers in Ireland this season and this fellow has won two of them. The form couldn’t have worked out better with the vanquished horses Articulum and Avenir D’Une Vie winning three races between them subsequently, and there should be more to come from the strapping son of Milan, who was recently sold to Alan and Ann Potts.
Trainer quote: “He’s a very exciting young horse and has been brought to run in the bumper, so that’s where he will go unless something happens between now and then. He’s in great form and I couldn’t be more happier with him.” – Jessica Harrington on New To This Town.
What’s the verdict?
Apart from last year, the winner is getting harder to find and you wouldn’t rule out another big-priced winner. That said, the front three in the market look particularly strong and, while it’s tough to choose between them, I’m coming down on the side of NEW TO THIS TOWN. Everything he has done so far suggests the best is yet to come and it’s hard to find another runner whose form has worked out better than his. He shouldn’t be adverse to some better ground either.
SELECTION: New To This Town each way @ 10/1 bet365 (¼ odds, 1.2.3) NRNB, Best Odds Guaranteed & Channel 4/1 Offer