Dunguib Leads Irish Clean Sweep in Weatherbys Champion Bumper 11/03/09
1st (7) Dunguib 9/2
Ireland’s domination of The Festival 2009 continued with the eighth Irish-trained winner when Dunguib landed the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the concluding contest on day two. All of the first eight horses home were trained in Ireland.
The winner travelled supremely well throughout under amateur Brian O’Connell and was in total command as he entered the home straight, running on strongly to secure a 10-length victory over Some Present with 5/2 favourite Rite Of Passage back in third.
Philip Fenton, who won at The Festival as a jockey aboard Loving Around in the 1996 National Hunt Chase, was enjoying his first Festival success as a trainer.
Fenton said of the 9/2 winner: “That was great. Brian rode him with a lot of confidence and top marks to him.
“This horse is not a cool customer. Mainly because he is a box walker and gets excited about small things.
“Punchestown is our festival but Cheltenham really is the place where it matters. That was a great performance today and he really stretched the field.
“We thought he was a beautiful horse the Christmas before last. He had one run at Punchestown last year and then we put him away until this season and he has come back stronger.
“I doubt he will go to Punchestown. I see him as a two-miler in the future.”
Winning jockey Brian O’Connell said: "He was always good at home and his last two runs have been very good. His race at Navan was a great run and I came here today thinking that he had every chance. To be honest, I would have been disappointed if he had been beaten.
"He travelled great and settled well. I was a little bit far out passing the stand and I thought that I might have a bit of trouble getting into the race but I was only a passenger more than anything else. I only had to do the steering.
"It was a very good bumper on paper and I think it rode like a very good race. They went a good gallop and my lad seemed to never come out of third gear. He's definitely the best horse I have ever sat on and it's great that Philip and the owners have put me up in a professional race here at Cheltenham.
"I only had my first rides at Cheltenham today and this was my second start after the four-mile chase earlier. I wasn't looking back to see how much I had won by but I couldn't hear anything coming.
"He has a great cruising speed and seems to stay well."
O’Connell, 22, was born in Limerick but is now based in Tipperary. He currently lies in third place in the amateurs’ championship in Ireland.
MIXED FORTUNES FOR MULLINS BROTHERS
Willie Mullins ran eight horses in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, his brother Tom saddled just one, but David beat Goliath comfortably in this family battle.
While Willie had to be content with a fourth (Quel Esprit) and fifth (Morning Supreme), Tom’s once-raced Some Present finished second, albeit ten lengths behind runaway winner Dunguib. Tom said: “He’s run a cracker for a horse with so little experience. We thought a lot of him after he won at Punchestown in December, and then I got Davy Russell to ride him in a schooling day at Leopardstown, and I thought he worked as well as any horse.
“I hoped Davy would agree with me, and when he pulled up he said, ‘you should go to the Cheltenham Bumper’. It’s worked out and he’ll learn a bit from the experience, but he’ll have to learn a good bit more to beat the winner [Dunguib].
“He’ll be a three-miler in time - he’s a real chaser in the making, but I’m looking forward to running him in novices’ hurdles next season. In the meantime we ought to go back to Punchestown for the Festival, because he’s won there, but how we beat Dunguib I don’t know.”
Willie Mullins said: “One or two of mine ran disappointingly, one or two ran well, but it was great for Philip Fenton who trains Dunguib.
“Quinola Des Obeaux [Tony McCoy] was beaten before he went away from the stands, and Cadspeed [Emmett Mullins] was beaten by the time they passed the water fence, while Sicilian Secret [Patrick Mullins] seemed to tie up. It looks like his muscles behind the saddle are wrong, and Patrick said he ran too freely and dropped out in the dip.”
The Dermot Weld-trained Rite of Passage, the subject of consistent support throughout the day, started as the 5/2 favourite.
But when the winner accelerated in the final furlong, Rite of Passage could not respond and was eventually just run out of second place by Some Present. Nevertheless,Weld felt his horse had done himself justice. "I was delighted with the horse. He’s run a very, very good race. But he probably found the ground a shade sticky for him," said Weld, who was full of praise for the winner. "He’s a super horse," he said.
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER PAST RESULTS
2008-WINNER-COUSIN VINNY 5-11-05 Owner-Festival Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Patrick Mullins; SP-12/1
ALL STAR 5-11-05 Owner-Cathal Ryan; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry
MOLLY 6-11-05 Owner-F T B Syndicate; Trainer-Joe Crowley
IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-33/1
THAT 6-11-05 Owner-Violet O’Leary;
Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-7/2 Fav
2004-WINNER-TOTAL ENJOYMENT 5-10-12 Owner-It Will Never Last Syndicate;
Trainer-Tommy Cooper IRE; Jockey-Jim Culloty; SP-7/1
2003-WINNER-LIBERMAN 5-11-06 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-2/1 Fav
2002-WINNER-PIZARRO 5-11-06 Owner-Edward Wallace;
IRE; Jockey-Jamie Spencer; SP-14/1
2000-WINNER-JOE CULLEN 5-11-06 Owner-Jackie Mullins; Trainer-Willie
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-14/1
1999-MONSIGNOR 5-11-06 Owner-Malcolm Denmark; Trainer-Mark Pitman; Jockey-Brendan
1998-WINNER-ALEXANDER BANQUET 5-11-06 Owner-M Swarbrick; Trainer-Willie
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Ruby Walsh; SP-9/1
1997-WINNER-FLORIDA PEARL 5-11-06 Owner-Violet
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
1996-WINNER-WITHER OR WHICH 5-11-06 Owner-Robert Sinclair; Trainer-Willie
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Willie Mullins; SP-11/4
1995-WINNER-DATO STAR 4-10-12 Owner-Kath Riley & Joe
Donald; Trainer-Malcolm Jefferson; Jockey-Mark Dwyer; SP-7/2
1994-WINNER-MUCKLEMEG 6-11-05 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Edward O'Grady
IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-7/2 Fav
1993-WINNER-RHYTHM SECTION 4-10-11 Owner-Robert Sinclair; Trainer-Homer
Scott IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-16/1
1992-WINNER-MONTELADO 5-11-13 Owner-Ollie Hannon; Trainer-Pat Flynn
IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-8/1
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER ROLL OF HONOUR
(Weatherbys Champion Bumper since 1997, Bi Group Festival Bumper 1996, Prestige Medical Festival Bumper 1995, Bromsgrove Industries Festival Bumper 1994, Guinness Festival Bumper 1993, Tote Festival Bumper 1992)
Year Winner Age/Wt Owner Trainer Jockey SP Ran
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER FACTS & FIGURES
1. The first winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper was Montelado, who achieved what is thought to be the unique feat of winning two consecutive Festival races. The Bumper, now run on Wednesday, was originally the last race of the Festival. Montelado went on to win the opening race of the 1993 Festival, the Trafalgar House Supreme Novices' Hurdle, now sponsored by William Hill.
2. Irish-trained runners have a great record in the race, accounting for 13 of the 16 winners. Willie Mullins has incredibly saddled six of the last 12 winners. He also rode his first winner of the race, the 1996 scorer Wither Or Which, while his son Patrick was in the saddle when Cousin Vinny won for the stable in 2008.
3. The three horses to have kept the trophy at home were Dato Star in 1995, Monsignor, who sprang a 50/1 surprise in 1999, and Liberman, who gave Martin Pipe his first and only win in the race in 2003.
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