17.15 Cheltenham: Risk the Value to maintain Irish Bumper dominance
Irish trainer Willie Mullins once gain has a formidable team who dominate the betting for the Champion Bumper, but the progressive Value At Risk looks capable of spoiling the party.
Philip Fenton’s five-year-old shaped with bags of promise when finishing runner-up on his racecourse debut to Very Wood in a competitive 22-runner contest at Punchestown and has since scored in good style at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown.
In the first of those successes he readily beat Windsor Park by 1 1/2 lengths, and that one has since gone on to slam some well-regarded sorts, easing down by five lengths at Leopardstown.
That gives the form a solid look, and Value At Risk remains open to plenty more improvement, while likely being suited by the strong gallop here.
His trainer, and jockey, Brian O’Connell, also knows what is required to win the race having triumphed with Dunguib in 2009, and he looks the value at the odds on offer to give Ireland their 17th winner in 22 runnings of the Champion Bumper.
Willie Mullins has saddled an amazing eight winners of this contest, and has three leading contenders in the shape of Black Hercules, Shaneshill and Killultagh Vic.
The Graham Wylie-owned pair of Black Hercules and Shaneshill are both unbeaten in two starts and have massive reputations.
However, Killultagh Vic put in a stunning display to slam the highly-regarded Golantilla by 16 lengths at Naas last time out and looks the County Carlow handlers’ best hope of landing the prize.
The five-year-old set a strong gallop in the hands of Patrick Mullins at Naas before showing animpressive turn of foot in the home straight to leave last year’s Champion Bumper third trailing in his wake.
Pizarro (2002) and Hairy Molly (2006) both won the same Naas bumper before going on to Cheltenham Festival glory, and Killultagh Vic looks to have a live chance of following in their footsteps, judged by the manner of his success.