Crashing after the Bumper
DESPITE currently being responsible for the top two in the betting, Eddie O'Leary, racing manager to his brother Michael's Gigginstown Stud, yesterday confirmed that the leading owners are unlikely to have any runner in the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper again this season.
The ill-fated Lovethehigherlaw was another for the same owners last year that was well fancied to win the Grade One contest, but he too was steered beyond the race.
O'Leary said yesterday: “I doubt Un Atout will be going to Cheltenham anyway. We have the first two in the betting for the Champion Bumper with Un Atout and Don Cossack, but, unless something seriously changes, I don't think either of them will be going.”
Don Cossack was touted as one to watch by Gigginstown's stable jockey Davy Russell earlier in the season and the five-year-old is a dual bumper winner this season.
However, earlier this week his trainer Gordon Elliott warned: “He's fine but I'd say it's very doubtful he'll go to Cheltenham. He's done very well to win his two races this season, but he's a nice horse with a big future and he'll either have just one more run this season or won't run at all.”
Un Atout was the year’s first four-year-old bumper winner at Naas last Sunday when winning by a massive 24\[Ian Winterton\]- lengths for Willie Mullins.
O'Leary admitted yesterday, though: “It's (Cheltenham Champion Bumper) just a race we don't particularly like as we think it can ruin a good young horse.”
Tonight we look at the evidence to possibly back up O'Leary's fears about the race by looking at the first three home for the past five years, as well as the horses that were sent off favourite.
The 2010 renewal looks to be the strongest, but so many have seemed to fail to progress to the dizzy heights expected following their bumper form.
l 1 Cheltenian:Unlikely to be raced this season. Unseen since winning this race, but a slight strain will see him minded until next year to go novice hurdling.
l 2 Destroyer Deployed: Has only raced once since Cheltenham when finishing second on his hurdling debut on New Year’s Eve.
l 3 Aupcharlie: Now trained by Willie Mullins having changed hands over the summer. Finished third and second respectively on his two hurdling starts when odds-on favourite.
l 6 Ericht (fav): Was third on hurdling bow behind Steps To Freedom at Cheltenham and filled the same placing on only run since in maiden hurdle. Entered for Huntingdon on Friday.
l 1 Cue Card: Finished fourth when sent off 7/4 favourite for last year’s Supreme Novices and began his chasing career this season with a win. Hit and miss since then, but won last time and leading contender for Arkle.
l 2 Al Ferof: Last year’s Supreme Novices Hurdle winner is now unbeaten from two starts over fences and another leading Arkle contender.
l 3 Frawley: Missed all of last season and has so far been absent since winning a Navan maiden hurdle back in September.
l 20 Shot From The Hip (fav): Ended last season by winning the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle and his first run this term came at Christmas when fourth on his chasing debut.
l 1 Dunguib: Four-time winner over hurdles before finishing third in Supreme Novice Hurdle when odds on. Only raced twice last season, the second of those finishing eighth behind Hurricane Fly in Champion Hurdle. Out for the whole of this season and due to go chasing in the autumn.
l 2 Some Present: Has won just once in 10 starts since Cheltenham and now without a win in nine.
l 3 Rite Of Passage (fav): Finished third in the Supreme Novices Hurdle the following season and then went on to win the Ascot Gold Cup of 2010. Only ran once last year when third behind Fame And Glory at Leopardstown.
l 1 Cousin Vinny: Began his novice hurdling campaign finishing third in a Grade One behind Hurricane Fly and then winning twice. Has only won once since and is unraced since Punchestown Festival 2010.
l 2 Corskeagh Royale: Won only once (maiden hurdle) in 20 starts after Champion Bumper although racked up more than €70,000 in prize money by being consistently placed.
l 3 Zaarito (fav): Won a hurdle and two chases after his bumper days and had a troubled time over fences along with some niggly problems that restricted him. Holds an entry for the Boylesports.com Hurdle at Leopardstown later this month interestingly.
l 1 Cork All Star: Like so many of these highlighted horses, won a maiden hurdle early the next season but never really fulfilled full potential. Injury initially saw him retired, but after almost two-and-a-half years off the track, he returned to go hunter chasing in England.
l 2 Sophocles: Unraced now since November 2009, he won his maiden hurdle before winning at Galway on the flat and failed to win since.
l 3 Aranleigh: Won a couple of hurdles before going chasing and injury saw his progress derailed. Won two on his return over fences \[Ian Winterton\]before another absence and was most recently pulled up at Leopardstown.
l 8 Mad Fish (fav): Never ran again after finishing eighth, beaten just six and three parts of a length in the Cheltenham race.