Designed as a showcase and experience-builder for horses who have not yet competed over jumps, the Champion Bumper is run under National Hunt rules but with no obstacles.
The race closes Day Two of the Festival and is the most prestigious ‘bumper’ or flat race on the annual National Hunt calendar.
Last year’s running was claimed by Fayonagh after a late burst from Gordon Elliott’s charge saw off the challenge of 10/1 shot Debuchet.
The 2018 renewal looks set to be a tight affair, with Blackbow, Didtheyleaveuoutto and Hollowgraphic all near the top of the market.
Originally entitled the Festival Bumper, this race was first introduced at Cheltenham in 1992. It has attracted a variety of sponsors over the years including Guinness and the Tote. Current Sponsors Weatherbys began their support in 1997, at which time the name was changed to the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
The first ever winner was jockey Richard Dunwoody on Montelado.
The Champion Bumper is run on Cheltenham’s Old Course over a distance of 3,319 metres with no obstacles and is open to horses aged between four and six.
Weights are 10st 11lb for four-year-olds and 11st 5lb for five- and six-year-olds, with the requisite allowance of 7lb for mares and fillies.
The prize purse stands at £75,000, of which the winning team will claim £42,712.50.
Although this is a relatively new race in Cheltenham’s history there have already been some impressive records set. Jockey Ruby Walsh has ridden to victory here three times: in 1998 on Alexander Banquet, in 2005 on Missed That, and in 2013 on Briar Hill.
Even more impressive, however, is trainer Willie Mullins, who has dominated the race with eight winners: Wither or Which (1996), Florida Pearl (1997), Alexander Banquet (1998), Joe Cullen (2000), Missed That (2005), Cousin Vinny (2008), Champagne Fever (2012) and Briar Hill (2013).
Race Trends and Statistics
- 21 of the last 25 winners came into the race off the back of a victory.
- 19 of the 25 renewals have been won by Irish-trained horses.
- Four-year-olds account for just three victories in this race – Cue Card (2010), Dato Star (1995) and Rhythm Section (1993).
- Only three SP favourites have ever gone on to win the race.
- No jockey has ever claimed back-to-back successes in the Champion Bumper.
- The last three renewals have been won by horses with an OR between 129-135.
A number of horses have made their name in the Champion Bumper before going onto achieve great things over fences or hurdles.
This includes Cue Card – who has since won the Ascot Chase twice, the Haldon Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase. Meanwhile, Florida Pearl went on to set the record for the most wins (four) of the Irish Hennessey Gold Cup, and also won the King George VI Chase and the RSA Chase.
Letting less-experienced horses test out their skills on a flat course, the Champion Bumper provides a chance for spectators to spot the future stars of British horse racing. With plenty to shout about, you’re bound to hear the Cheltenham Roar here.
Champion Bumper Winners
- 2008: Cousin Vinny – Patrick Mullins
- 2009: Dunguib – Brian O’Connell
- 2010: Cue Card – Joe Tizzard
- 2011: Cheltenian – Richard Johnson
- 2012: Champagne Fever – Patrick Mullins
- 2013: Briar Hill – Ruby Walsh
- 2014: Silver Concorde – Robbie McNamara
- 2015: Moon Racer – Tom Scudamore
- 2016: Ballyandy – Sam Twiston-Davies
- 2017: Fayonagh – Jamie Codd
Check out for the latest Champion Bumper odds at Ladbrokes