The Champion Bumper is unique at the Cheltenham Festival in that it is the only race that is not run over fences or hurdles, but on the flat.

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.

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The race closes Day Two of the Festival and is the most prestigious ‘bumper’ or flat race on the annual National Hunt calendar.

Race history

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.

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Race information

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 £70,000, of which the winning team will claim £34,170.

Race records

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

  • As of 2015, 17 races have been won by Irish-trained horses
  • There have only been three favourites to ever win this race
  • However, 13 of the winners were placed in the top six in betting
  • 18 of the 22 winners had previously won their last race
  • 11 winners of the Champion Bumper have returned to the Cheltenham Festival the following year to compete in one of the hurdles races

There have been many horses over the years first seen at Cheltenham in the Champion Bumper who have gone on to achieve great things over fences or hurdles.

This includes Cue Card – who has since won the Ascot Chase, the Haldon Gold Cup, the Ryanair Chase and the Ascot Chase – and Florida Pearl, who 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.

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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.