Wednesday February 22nd 1pm
Don’t quite know where this article is going to go but the idea is to have a look at the bumper at Doncaster 4.55 today which should give an insight to where we stand with the English side of things using collateral form. Then we will have a look at the current market leaders for the Cheltenham bumper, mainly Irish, mainly Mullins! Then a round-up of Irish bumper form and hopefully we could end up with a bet for the Festival and a dozen or so to go in the long term tracker?
Weds. Feb 21st Doncaster 4.55 Going: Good
CLAIMANTAKINFORGAN (Nicky Henderson) sent off 3/1F for the hot Listed bumper at Ascot when he finished sixth behind Western Ryder and Imperial Eloquence, who probably represent the best of tested English bumper form this season.
Western Ryder (Warren Greatrex) won on debut, was beaten by Fergal O’Brien’s Infinite Sun under a penalty, won at Ascot and then most recently was unable to give 21lbs to Nicky Henderson’s 4yo mare Daphne du Clos in a Listed bumper at Newbury. The vibes are that she is more likely to go to Aintree for the mare’s bumper there but perhaps we will know a bit more after Henderson’s Media day today.
Imperial Eloquence (Fergal O’Brien) had finished third in the Cheltenham November Listed bumper behind Poetic Rhythm and Ben Pauling’s Boreham Bill. Poetic Rhythm is another of Fergal O’Brien’s, a trainer with a very strong bumper squad this season. He has had 11 bumper winners from 46 runners. This seems to be the one Cheltenham bound.
The form of the Listed bumpers hasn’t been seriously franked this season but a win for Claimantakinforgan would give them a boost.
MONTYS AWARD (Charlie Longsdon) A winner of a Good ground bumper at Worcester back in October with strong market support, 10’s to 6’s, knew his job and won “comfortably” by four lengths. The fourth GETAWAY WHISKEY (Dan Skelton) has won since and was due to re-oppose but is a non-runner. The fifth, eighth and ninth have all won since suggesting it was an above average race although today will tell us more.
LEGAL OK (Stuart Edmunds) This is the type of horse who makes this division so trappy. Not seen since November when winning an Irish PtP by a distance, bred to win over 10F on the Flat and in the hands of an emerging trainer.
BLACK OP (Tom George) Has been in many notebooks since winning his Irish PtP back in March 2016 and then underlined when Roger Brookhouse forked out £210K for him at auction. There are a few like him entered up in the next few days, unraced under rules, cost a few quid, one win now and a shot at the festival!
Looking at the short term I think I have to back MONTYS AWARD today, currently 4/1 best with WH.
In the long term I am not impressed with the UK Bumper “form” but wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Cue Card lurking, one run, one win at a minor track and ready to burst on to the scene! Likely candidates are Cause Toujours (Dan Skelton), Carlos du Fruitier (Ben Pauling), If the Cap Fits (Harry Fry) and maybe the twice raced Ravenhill Road (Brian Ellison).
I am going to post this now at 1pm then update later on today when I’ve had a good look at the Irish contenders who as I see it at the moment have the stronger hand.
5pm If you are talking Irish bumpers you have to start at Closutton with Willie Mullins as his entries will make the market but he hasn’t won the race since 2013 and that was with Briar Hill his outsider of three at 25/1 despite Ruby Walsh riding it! When he won it the year before with Champagne Fever at 16/1, Ruby was on Pique Sous at 12/1! So the market isn’t too clever at working out the Mullins team! In the last five years the Mullins targets have moved up a notch or three and this race isn’t the focus it once was. However in 2017 he dominates the market.
Carter McKay Current favourite having won both his bumpers to date. He is an interesting horse as he is owned by Pearl Bloodstock aka Sheikh Al Thani and Qatar Racing and he put up a generous cash bonus to any member of his bloodstock team who could buy him a winner at the Cheltenham Festival and David Redvers, the teams head honcho, laid out a casual £160K for this grey Irish PtP winner!!
On debut he travelled well and outstayed Bacmaj who has won since. Then he stepped up to 2m4f in “a winner of one” bumper and in a field of just four Patrick Mullins set the easy fractions and comfortably saw off the hampered West Coast Time.
Mullins junior said: “I was really looking forward to riding Carter McKay at Christmas and I thought he would win easier than he did in Leopardstown, but the horse that he beat (Bakmaj) came out and won very easily next time. It looked like he had improved going into the race at Naas. It was a very slowly run race and it turned into a sprint, which it can sometimes do. It is a bit hard to tell the form of the race as I don’t think Joseph O’Brien’s horse (West Coast Time) ran to the best of his ability. Although he did it very impressively and easily, I would have slight question marks over it. He will go straight to Cheltenham now, but he is a horse for the future. It is nice to have a good horse for Sheikh Fahad. Hopefully he is excited about the prospect of having a Cheltenham favourite.”
Clearly the horse has an engine and looks a staying type but I would rather back him for 2018 2m 5f Neptune hurdle than this years 2m Cheltenham bumper on Good to Soft ground.
Ballyward In all the interviews I’ve heard or read it is quite clear owner Graham Wylie is keen on this one. This 5yo son of Flemensfirth won his only bumper over 2m 4f beating eight rivals at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting. He may have beaten trees, nothing has franked the form, but he tanked through the race and didn’t go the front until 300yds out and then beat the trees sixteen lengths. I like him.
Next Destination Willie trains this son of rising NH sire Dubai Destination for Malcolm Denmark (black and white check, yellow cap). Next Destination won his Irish PtP and his sole bumper, a nine runner affair at Fairyhouse on New Years Day. Long, scopey type that just about made every yard, green but showed a decent turn of foot to beat Derrinross.
Come to Me This is the one for me. Prominent throughout, travelled sweetly, then two furlongs out went whoosh! Left some decent types behind including useful yardstick Burren Life. “He’s a half-brother to Sweet My Lord and that’s why we bought him,” said Mullins. “I look forward to running him in a winner’s bumper in the New Year. I’m happy with that, and our bumper horses seem to be decent enough.”
What else has Ireland got? Well I like two.
Red Jack Trained by Noel Meade he was impressive in beating previous winner Debuchet from the Mullins yard at Naas at the beginning of January. Just a 4yo son of Mahler I think they will keep him for Punchestown.
Dr Wallace 6yo son of Flemensfirth who hasn’t been seen since beating Noel Meade’s Minella Fair, a winner since, in his only race to date at Navan. The post-race report makes interesting reading and winning jockey Patrick Mullins, nephew of the trainer Margaret Mullins has mentioned this horse favourably since.
Alan Magee irishracing.com “Dr Wallace was all the rage for the REA T & J Gavigan Estate Agents Flat Race at Navan and duly justified the confidence under Patrick Mullins. The well-bred Flemensfirth gelding was available at 11/4 this morning, and attracted further support on track from 6/4 into 9/10. The odds-on shot travelled smoothly in the straight to challenge the front-running Minella Fair, and Mullins eventually said go just over a furlong out. Dr Wallace was driven out inside the final furlong and kept on well to score by three and three quarter lengths, with Ken’s Well a further eight lengths away in third. Winning trainer Mags Mullins said, “I’m delighted, and I think he is nice. He’s a big baby and is going to improve. He’s going to be very good I think. Paddy gave him a lovely ride. He was a little bit babyish when he hit the front. He’s a full-brother to Backspin who was a really good horse. Peter Magnier is in on him with me. Peter is great, he’s a big support to the yard, and I’m delighted for him. We’ll give him a chance and I wouldn’t think we’ll come back at Christmas. I’m not really sure where we’ll go and we’ll see how he is. He just might be one for Cheltenham, for the bumper. There are a couple of lovely bumpers here without even crossing the water and we could give him a chance for the year. He jumps really well but he won’t do any of that until next year. I’m delighted with him.”