News The 2024 Weatherbys Champion Bumper

The 2024 Weatherbys Champion Bumper


History could be made in this year’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper as Argento Boy has a fair chance of becoming the first horse to join their sibling on the always hotly contested Grade 1 race’s roll of honour.

The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old, who was bought from his breeder Burgage Stud for €120,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale and bolted up on debut in a Fairyhouse bumper in January, is a Jukebox Jury half-brother to Briar Hill, a seven-length winner over Regal Encore in the Champion Bumper of 2013.

That’s not the only Cheltenham clue in Argento Boy’s pedigree. His dam Backaway is a Bob Back full-sister to Boston Bob, who found only Brindisi Breeze too good in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, and their dam Bavaway was a Le Bavard half-sister to Danny Harrold, who finished second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Argento Boy is joined by another sibling to a previous Cheltenham Festival winner in this year’s Champion Bumper, as Paul Nicholls’ easy Exeter scorer Quebecois is a No Risk At All half-brother to Boston Bob’s ill-fated conqueror Brindisi Breeze.

No Risk At All holds a strong hand in the race as he is also the sire of Gordon Elliott’s unbeaten Fairyhouse and Leopardstown scorer Jalon D’Oudairies, who is likely to be sent off among the favourites after receiving glowing praise from his trainer.

Quebecois’ stablemate Farland, a winner at Fakenham last time, is not far off being another sibling to a Cheltenham Festival winner, but the son of Getaway’s half-brother Minella Cocooner came up five lengths short when second to The Nice Guy in the Albert Bartlett at the meeting two years ago.

Getaway is another who has two darts to throw at the race, as he is also the sire of Fergal O’Brien’s Winter Million winner Tripoli Flyer, who is out of a Listed-placed hurdler and from the family of Scottish Grand National winner Moorcroft Boy.

Fleur Au Fusil, a Grade 2 winner at the Dublin Racing Festival for Mullins last month, will be the third of her dam’s produce to have competed at the Cheltenham Festival, with Keskonrisk finishing sixth in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Grand Sancy managing 11th in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Another of this year’s Champion Bumper entrants from a talented family is Sam Thomas’s Ascot Listed third Celtic Dino, a Doctor Dino half-brother to Grade 1-placed hurdler Saint Segal, who ran tenth behind Brazil in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle in 2022.

Romeo Coolio, an unbeaten Fairyhouse winner for Elliott, and Union Avenue, a dual scorer at Kelso and Aintree for James Moffatt, are by the sires with the best record in the Champion Bumper.

Romeo Coolio is by the late, great Overbury Stud resident Kayf Tara, sire of 2016 winner Ballyandy and 2019 third Thyme Hill, while Union Avenue is by another much-missed colossus of the National Hunt stallion ranks in Burgage Stud stalwart Shantou, source of the aforementioned Briar Hill and 2022 third James’s Gate.

Only one other Champion Bumper hopeful this year is by a sire who has already delivered a winner of the contest, and that’s Nicholls’ impressive Exeter winner Teeshan, who is by Westerner, who was on the mark with Ferny Hollow in 2020.

Bill Joyce, who is two from two for Jonjo O’Neill, will likely go off at long odds but his pedigree gives him a chance. He is a son of Mahler, sire of Champion Bumper runner-up American Mike, out of a mare by Flemensfirth, whose daughters Relegate and Total Enjoyment won the race and whose top-class son Tornado Flyer ran third.

Furthermore, he is from the immediate family of Punchestown Champion Bumper hero Supreme Developer and last year’s Albert Bartlett third Sandor Clegane.

Mullins’ Dublin Racing Festival runner-up You Oughta Know can also claim to be very well bred, being by Beat Hollow – source of festival winners Minella Indo, Cinders And Ashes and Wicklow Brave – out of a Soldier Of Fortune half-sister to the stable’s former star novice hurdler Pont Alexandre.

Horses bred for the Flat but rerouted to the National Hunt sphere often run well in this race; that was certainly the case last season, when champion sprinter Muhaarar’s son A Dream To Share struck, and ten years ago, when the Dansili gelding Silver Concorde won.

Perhaps the bluest-blooded contender this year is Jane Chapple-Hyam’s nine-length Southwell winner Stavvy, who hails from the sole crop of European champion Roaring Lion and is out of Every Time, a daughter of Pivotal and Musidora Stakes winner Time Away, from the Barnett family’s wonderful Time Charter family.

Among the leading fancies for the 2024 Champion Bumper are Mullins’ 15-length Naas winner Jasmin De Vaux, whose sire Tirwanako is little-used but has also come up with Arkle runner-up Gabynako, and Elliott’s unlucky Dublin Racing Festival fourth The Yellow Clay, a son of Royal Ascot legend and reigning champion jumps sire Yeats.