Champion Bumper

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The Champion Bumper is a Grade 1 National Hunt race that was introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 1992.

The Champion Bumper is held on the 13th of March 2024.

Bumper races are essentially flat races over two miles for National Hunt bred horses so horses that have raced under flat racing rules are not eligible.

The race has been dominated by Irish Trainer Willie Mullins who won it for the twelfth time in 2022. His most famous winner was Florida Pearl in 1997 while other notable winners include Cue Card (2010) and Envoi Allen (2019).

Find out more about the Champion Bumper:

Champion Bumper

Race Overview – The Champion Bumper

The Cheltenham Champion Bumper takes place at Cheltenham on the Old Course.

The race is scheduled to take place on Wednesday the 15th of March at 17:30 which is the 2nd day of the festival.

The Grade 1 National Hunt flat race has a distance of 2 miles and 87 yards.

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Famous Champion Bumper Winners

The inaugural running of the Champion Bumper was won by the well-backed Montelado, trained in Ireland by Pat Flynn and ridden by Richard Dunwoody. That victory set the trend for a race that Ireland has continued to dominate for the next thirty years.

Dato Star was the first winner to be trained in England, going on to prove a top-class hurdler for Malcolm Jefferson. His victories include the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, the Haydock Champion Hurdle Trial and two Fighting Fifth Hurdles at Newcastle.

Willie Mullins trained and rode Wither or Which to win in 1996, a race which he would go on to dominate.

The following year he saddled Florida Pearl to win with Dunwoody in the saddle. He was one of the greatest staying chasers of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s but success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup eluded him. He won the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup on four occasions, the Punchestown Gold Cup, the Aintree Bowl and the King George VI Chase.

The race produced another champion in 2010 when Cue Card won for Colin and Joe Tizzard. He went on to become one of the most popular horses in training. He won the Betfair Chase three times, including in 2015 when he followed up in the King George VI Chase. This set him up for a £1million bonus if he could win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He fell at the third last when seemingly poised just behind the leaders. His fifteen career victories included the Ryanair Chase and the Ascot Chase (twice).

Champagne Fever (2012) won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle the following season for Mullins and Envoi Allen (2019) won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle for Gordon Elliott. His winning sequence finally came to an end after 11 races when falling in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

As you can see the list of previous winners is impressive including Briar Hill, James’s Gate and facile Vega.

Champion Bumper Previous Winners

Here are the previous winners for the Champion Bumper.

2013Briar Hill5Ruby WalshWillie Mullins
2014Silver Concorde6Robbie McNamara[a]Dermot Weld
2015Moon Racer6Tom ScudamoreDavid Pipe
2016Ballyandy5Sam Twiston-DaviesNigel Twiston-Davies
2017Fayonagh6Jamie Codd[a]Gordon Elliott
2018Relegate5Katie Walsh[a]Willie Mullins
2019Envoi Allen5Jamie Codd[a]Gordon Elliott
2020Ferny Hollow5Paul TownendWillie Mullins
2021Sir Gerhard6Rachael BlackmoreWillie Mullins
2022Facile Vega5Patrick Mullins[a]Willie Mullins
2023A Dream To Share5John Gleeson[a]John Kiely

Key Champion Bumper Trials

Champion Bumper winners have come from a wide variety of races with few established trials.

The Goffs Future Stars at Leopardstown certainly ranks highly. Envoi Allen won here on his way to winning the Champion Bumper in 2019. The following year the Willie Mullins-trained Appreciate It won and in 2021 stable companion Kilcruit was an impressive scorer. Both horses finished second at Cheltenham.

The Future Champions at Navan has also been won some high-class bumper horses.

Champion Bumper winners Envoi Allen (2018) and Sir Gerhard (2020) were both successful here while Samcro (2016) was another notable winner. Facile Vega was a popular win in 2022.

Despite there having been a lot of short-priced favourites over the years, only two of the last twelve Champion Bumper favourites have obliged.

Moon Racer started 9-2 favourite for David Pipe in 2015 and Envoi Allen was 2-1 market leader in 2019.

Five of the twelve winners were in the first three in the betting. It is always a lively horse racing market.

What are the betting trends for the Champion Bumper

Willie Mullins invariably has multiple entries for this race and it is not always his first string that passes the post in front.

Champagne Fever (2012) was a 16-1 chance and Briar Hill (2013) started at 25-1, the latter despite the presence of Ruby Walsh in the saddle! His sister Katie would do the steering five years’ later aboard Relegate (also 25-1) for the same stable. Ferny Hollow also upset his better-fancied stablemate Appreciate It when scoring at 11-1 in 2020.

Twelve of the last thirteen winners had at least two previous bumper runs and at least one victory.

Half of them ran within the previous 40 days and the most successful age has been fairly evenly split between five and six-year-olds.

All twelve were officially rated 118 or higher, Champagne Fever being the highest rated in recent years on 136.

Champion Bumper – Top Trainers and Jockeys

Willie Mullins is by far the most successful trainer in the race with eleven winners. His run of success started with Wither or Which, ridden by Mullins himself in 1996. His subsequent winners were Florida Pearl (1997), Alexander Banquet (1997), Joe Cullen (2000), Missed That (2005), Cousin Vinny (2008), Champagne Fever (2012), Briar Hill (2013), Relegate (2018), Ferny Hollow (2020), Sir Gerhard (2021) and Facile Vega (2022).

Gordon Elliott has been one of the few trainers to interrupt the Mullins bandwagon in this event. He won with Fayonagh (2017) and Envoi Allen (2019). He was also responsible for a large part of the preparation for Sir Gerhard in 2021 but lost the horse to Mullins due to the suspension of his licence.

Ruby Walsh remains the leading rider in the history of the Champion Bumper with three winners; Alexander Banquet, Missed That and Briar Hill. Jamie Codd and Patrick Mullins have ridden two winners apiece and snapping at the heels to be the leading jockey.

Betting on the Champion Bumper

The Champion Bumper is not one of the biggest betting races at the Cheltenham Festival but still attracts plenty of ante-post interest.

Almost any impressive bumper winner on either side of the water will be quoted for this race during the winter months.

Bookmakers have started offering “non-runner – no bet” on the Champion Bumper towards the end of January. The big Irish stables tend to dominate the betting and often have multiple entries.

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Champion Bumper FAQ’s

What day is the Champion Bumper?

The Champion Bumper is on the 13th of March.

Champion Bumper Facts

  • The Champion Bumper is a National Hunt flat race in Great Britain which is open to horses which are four years old to six.
  • It is run on the Old Course at Cheltenham over a distance of 2 miles and half a furlong.

Summary of The Champion Bumper

The Champion Bumper is one of the most popular races during the Cheltenham Festival. It is one of the highlights of the national hunt calendar.

Always a big field, with lots of unbeaten horses racing against each other it has produced brilliant horses for the future.

It has been dominated by the Irish in recent years, most notably by Mullins, who always seems to have 4 or 5 big chances in the race.

If you have enjoyed this Cheltenham Champion Bumper page – an unusual NH flat race, here are some other articles related to Cheltenham betting you may also like:

If betting at Cheltenham, please bet responsibly.