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Options aplenty for Mullins in Champion Bumper

The Champion Bumper was established at the Cheltenham Festival back in 1992 when it was originally put as the final race of the entire week. This created a unique point in history when the winner Montelado went onto win back to back races as the Supreme Novices Hurdle was the first race of the following year’s Festival.

Notable winners include multiple Grade One winner Florida Pearl and the unbeaten Monsignor, whose career was sadly cut short due to injury. More recently, the likes of Cue Card, who won at a scarcely believable 40/1 and Cheltenham specialist Champagne Fever, one of eight winners for Willie Mullins, have been victorious in the Bumper.

Like the majority of next week’s Festival, yet again Mullins has a stranglehold near the head of the market with the Rich Ricci owned pair of Bordini (7/1 favourite with Coral) and Pylonthepressure (10/1).

Both have looked impressive in previous bumpers wins, the former taking two at Punchestown and a Listed contest at Navan by 6 1/2 lengths in easy fashion. The latter beat the highly regarded Space Cadet in style by 8 1/2 lengths. Mullins’ son Patrick will have a difficult decision choosing between the pair, as both look uncomplicated to ride and will both get further.

Mullins also has other entries including Au Quart De Tour (12/1), Stone Hard and Bellshill. The first two have big reputations and similar profiles, having both won their Point to Points impressively before each landing bumpers, the latter having won two.

The concern with Au Quart De Tour is whether he actually travels over, as Mullins has reported him not being a well horse lately whilst Stone Hard could be one of the first ever to represent Gigginstown, having relaxed their rules on having runners in the race.

Bellshill (20/1) looks the likely representative for Graham Wylie, with Up For Review disappointing recently behind Tycoon Prince. He was beaten over Christmas by another intended runner Vigil when attempting to make all at Leopardstown on testing ground.

Whilst most horses will improve for better ground, Bellshill gives the impression he will thrive on it and, of the Mullins brigade, he looks overpriced at 20/1, He can at least overturn the form with Vigil, who ran in last year’s bumper and got outpaced slightly coming down the hill before staying on into a never nearer sixth. He could very easily get into a similar situation again.

Although Ireland look to be strongly represented, England have strong Champion Bumper claims with Moon Racer (8/1 second-favourite) and Wait With Me. The former was an expensive purchase after winning a Fairyhouse bumper, and confirmed the price tag when bolting up over course and distance back in October. Moon Racer has been kept for the race rather than go novice hurdling and holds an excellent chance.

Wait With Me came out in a good bumper at Ascot and created a favourable impression when winning easily. He looked very straight forward and professional in the way he went about his business. His trainer Philip Hobbs won the bumper with Cheltenian back in 2011 and he already looks as though he could rate a better horse in time than him.

Supasundae (10/1) has the right profile for the race. He is another that goes into the race unbeaten and was impressive at Ascot when beating a strong field, which included Yanworth (who is also in contention to the run in the Champion Bumper).

Since that win, Supasundae has been bought by the Potts family and sent to Henry De Bromhead. With his flat pedigree, he could be at a big advantage with tactical pace compared to some that will want further in time. Yanworth (20/1) merits a go and will be Tony McCoy’s final ride in the race but may find a couple too good.