Weatherbys Champion Bumper - Wed Mar 13th 2013 

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Briar Hill Lands Champion Bumper

1 Briar Hill 25/1
2 Regal Encore 7/1 Fav
3 Golantilla 9/1
4 The Liquidator 16/1
NR: Johnny Og
23 ran Distances: 7l, 2¼l, shd
TIME 3m 54.70s (slow by 11.70s)

Willie Mullins expressed his surprise after Briar Hill destroyed a competitive-looking field by seven lengths to land the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and give the trainer his fifth winner of The Festival.

Briar Hill
© Caroline Norris

Briar Hill

Sent off at odds of 25/1, the five-year-old made a mockery of his odds and punters will surely wonder how they allowed the Ruby Walsh-ridden gelding to go off at such a big price.

Briar Hill’s victory completed a 83.5/1 double for both Mullins and owner Graham Wylie on the second day of The Festival. It also gives Mullins his eighth winner in the race.

“I thought one of the others might win it because I had four horses aimed for the bumper and this was the fourth of four,” said Mullins.

“I wasn’t particularly pushed about bringing him but we did know he had a bit of ability after his debut despite showing nothing at home. I like horses like that though as they tend to surprise you.

“I said to Mr Wylie there is no pressure and we are only here to find out how good he is. Even if he had finished 10th, we would have been happy so it’s a big surprise.

“Ruby wanted to drop him out because of the early pace and then get him on an even keel. I think a combination of the hill, better ground and a bit of a stamina test have brought out the best in him. The others have all run a bit too free but we’ll see how they are when we get home and make plans from there.

“We might have a look at Punchestown for the winner now but he’s a stayer in the making. He’s closely related to Boston Bob so you’d imagine he’ll get a trip. He’ll be given a typical novice hurdle campaign next season which will probably end up back here in the Albert Bartlett.”

Jockey Ruby Walsh admitted that Briar Hill’s runaway success in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper had come as a welcome surprise,

“It’s a bit of a shock as I had a couple of good rides earlier in the day and I wasn’t really counting on this guy,” said Walsh. “It didn’t go to plan because I missed the break and had to change plan but it worked out and when I gave him a smack he took off. He was very impressive.

“He is no flash harry at home but you don’t mind that if they do it at the racecourse and I think he could be a top horse for the future. He is related to Boston Bob and we have always classed him as a chaser in the making.

“He’s workmanlike at home and we saw the best of him here, I was really impressed by his turn of foot after the bend.”

Briar Hill was Walsh’s fourth winner of the 2013 Festival.

Owner Graham Wylie, who had won the opening race with Back In Focus, added: “I’m so surprised because it was only yesterday that I realised he’d be running. I knew he was entered but Willie rang yesterday and said he’d put him in the box to come over and that Ruby would be riding, which I thought was interesting. He came from last to first, it was a great effort.”


Dorset trainer Anthony Honeyball enjoyed his best result at The Festival when Regal Encore finished second of 23 in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Five-year-old Regal Encore – who is owned by J P McManus and was ridden by A P McCoy – was no match for runaway winner Briar Hill, a 25/1 shot who scooted home by seven lengths for the irrepressible pair of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins. This was Mullins’ fifth winner of the meeting, and Walsh’s fourth, and Honeyball showed a dry wit when saying: “I’m pleased for Willie and Ruby – they really needed that!”

He added: “The pressure is off now, because they [the McManus family] are very good winners and losers. We’re delighted he’s run such a good race and done himself justice. I did think that if we could get him here in good order that on form he would run well. It’s hard to evaluate bumper form, but the way he won at Chepstow made me confident he would do well if he got a good run through the race.

“He’s still a bit keen and A P has to drop him out a bit as a result. Hopefully with time he’ll settle down and we’ll be able to ride him a bit handier, but A P gave him a cracking ride, and it was pleasing to see the horse gallop right to the line. When three of them pulled clear I felt relief that we would be there or thereabouts, and while I was was worried he might fade he didn’t. It’s not a disastrous day.

“We’ve no plan – we’ll probably school him over hurdles, and if the owner wants to see him again this season then so be it.”


Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1 Standard Open NH Flat Race)
£60,000 added, 4-6yo, 2m 110y, Class 1
23 ran
Going: Good to soft, soft in places

Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Briar Hill
W P Mullins
R Walsh
11st 5lbs
25 - 1
Regal Encore
A J Honeyball
A P McCoy
11st 5lbs
7 - 1
7 lengths
A J Martin
D E Mullins
11st 5lbs
9 - 1
2 1/4 lengths
The Liquidator
D Pipe
T Scudamore
11st 5lbs
16 - 1
Short Head
Purple Bay
J P Ferguson
D F O'Regan
10st 11lbs
25 - 1
1/2 length
Pure Science
N A Twiston-Davies
S Twiston-Davies
11st 5lbs
33 - 1
3/4 length
Le Vent D'Antan
Miss E Doyle
Mr M P Fogarty
10st 11lbs
7 - 1
7 lengths
Union Dues
W P Mullins
Mr P W Mullins
11st 5lbs
9 - 1
1 1/2 length
Posiden Sea
D T Hughes
B J Cooper
11st 5lbs
100 - 1
J S Goldie
G Lee
11st 5lbs
40 - 1
1 1/4 length
Vieux Lion Rouge
D Pipe
R Johnson
10st 11lbs
16 - 1
3 1/2 lengths
Doctor Harper
D Pipe
T J Murphy
11st 5lbs
33 - 1
9 lengths
Sgt Reckless
M R Channon
R Hughes
11st 5lbs
8 - 1
D McCain Jnr
J M Maguire
11st 5lbs
80 - 1
Short Head
A J Martin
B J Geraghty
11st 5lbs
12 - 1
1 3/4 length
Fascino Rustico
P F Nicholls
D A Jacob
11st 5lbs
33 - 1
4 lengths
A P O'Brien
J P O'Brien
10st 11lbs
16 - 1
1/2 length
Kayf Moss
J L Flint
R Flint
11st 5lbs
150 - 1
6 lengths
Milo Man
Evan Williams
Paul Moloney
11st 5lbs
16 - 1
15 lengths
I'm Fraam Govan
George Baker
A Tinkler
11st 5lbs
66 - 1
5 lengths
Sizing Tennessee
W P Mullins
A E Lynch
11st 5lbs
10 - 1
1 3/4 length
The Clock Leary
Miss V Williams
Aidan Coleman
11st 5lbs
66 - 1
6 lengths
C F Swan
D J Casey
11st 5lbs
33 - 1
40 lengths
Non Runner
Johnny Og
M Keighley
Ian Popham
10st 11lbs



Aidan O’Brien paid his first visit to Cheltenham since 2002, when Istabraq was pulled up in the Champion Hurdle, to saddle Shield, 17th of 23 in the day’s finale, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

“Being here brings back a lot of good memories,” he said. “It’s a great place to be.”

Shield was O’Brien’s first runner at a Jump meeting in Britain since Istabraq, and when he won at Leopardstown 10 days ago he was his trainer’s first bumper winner since The Alamo won at Galway in August, 2004. But, with daughter Sara now riding as an amateur, he will be further renewing his acquaintance with the branch of the sport in which he honed his skills with such as triple Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq before switching to the Flat.

O’Brien reported the Ballydoyle stars, last year’s dual Classic hero Camelot and this year’s 2,000 Guineas prospects Cristoforo Colombo and Kingsbarns, in good health and form after the winter. “They’re going nicely,” he said. “I don’t know if the two Guineas horses will run before Newmarket, but I would say maybe they won’t.”

Shield was a first Cheltenham experience for O’Brien’s son Joseph, the Irish Flat champion. “It was a grand spin round,” he said, “but it was all a bit of a shock to the system for the horse. He’s only a baby yet.”



2012-WINNER-CHAMPAGNE FEVER 5-11-05 Owner-Susannah Ricci; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Patrick Mullins; SP-16/1
2ND-New Year’s Eve 4-10-11 Owner-Bloomfields; Trainer-John Ferguson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-9/2 Fav
3RD-Pique Sous 5-11-05 Owner-Supreme Horse Racing Club; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-12/1
20 ran, Time-3m 47.50s Dist-1¼, hd

2011-WINNER-CHELTENIAN 5-11-05 Owner-Roger Brookhouse; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-14/1
2ND Destroyer Deployed 5-11-05 Owner-The Craftsmen; Trainer-Tim Vaughan; Jockey-Aidan Coleman; SP-66/1
3RD Aupcharlie 5-11-05 Owner-Gerard Boyle; Trainer-Pat Collins IRE; Jockey- Mr Jason McKeown; SP-33/1
24 ran, Time-3m 51.85s Dist-5, 4½ 5/1 Fav Ericht (6th)

2010-WINNER-CUE CARD 4-10-12 Owner-Jean Bishop; Trainer-Colin Tizzard; Jockey-Joe Tizzard; SP-40/1
2ND Al Ferof 5-11-05 Owner-John Hales; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-8/1
3RD Frawley 5-11-05 Owner-Dr K A Roche-Nagle; Trainer-John Kiely IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-14/1 24 ran, Time-3m 48.70s Dist-8, 8 3/1 Fav Shot From The Hip (20th)

2009-WINNER-DUNGUIB 6-11-05 Owner-Daniel Harnett; Trainer-Philip Fenton IRE; Jockey-Mr Brian O’Connell; SP-9/2
2ND Some Present 6-11-05 Owner-Frances Duffin; Trainer-Tom Mullins IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-25/1
3RD Rite Of Passage 5-11-05 Owner-Dr Ronan Lambe; Trainer-Dermot Weld IRE; Jockey-Pat Smullen; SP-5/2 Fav 24 ran, Time-3m 56.90s Dist-10, ¾

2008-WINNER-COUSIN VINNY 5-11-05 Owner-Festival Syndicate; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Patrick Mullins; SP-12/1
2ND Corskeagh Royale 5-11-05 Owner-Queen Maeve Racing Club; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Miss Nina Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD Zaarito 6-11-05 Owner-Victoria Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Davy Russell; SP-3/1 Fav
23 ran, Time-4m 1.30s Dist-3¼, ¾

2007-WINNER-CORK ALL STAR 5-11-05 Owner-Cathal Ryan; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-11/2
2ND Sophocles 4-10-11 Owner-Mrs A Donnelly; Trainer-James Leavy IRE; Jockey-Miss Pauline Ryan; SP-40/1
3RD Aranleigh 5-11-05 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Tony Mullins IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-8/1
24 ran, Time-3m 47.90s Dist-1¼, 1½ 4/1 Fav Mad Fish (8th)

2006-WINNER-HAIRY MOLLY 6-11-05 Owner-F T B Syndicate; Trainer-Joe Crowley IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-33/1
2ND Pressgang 4-10-11 Owner-Mrs Anthony West; Trainer-Paul Webber; Jockey-Tom Doyle; 20/1
3RD Kicks For Free 5-11-05 Owner-Mark Tincknell; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-5/1
23 ran, Time-3m 46.70s Dist-hd, 1.75 5/2 Fav Equus Maximus (12th)

2005-WINNER-MISSED THAT 6-11-05 Owner-Violet O’Leary; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-7/2 Fav
2ND De Soto 4-10-12 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Paul Webber; Jockey-Tom Doyle; SP-20/1
3RD Rasharrow 6-11-05 Owner-Ashleybank Investments Limited; Trainer-Len Lungo; Jockey-Tony Dobbin; SP-9/1
24 ran, Time-3m 52.70s Dist-nk, .5

2004-WINNER-TOTAL ENJOYMENT 5-10-12 Owner-It Will Never Last Syndicate; Trainer-Tommy Cooper IRE; Jockey-Jim Culloty; SP-7/1
2ND Refinement 5-10-12 Owner-Michael Tabor; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-7/1
3RD Master Albert 6-10-12 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-David Wachman IRE; Jockey-Mr J P Magnier; SP-50/1
24 ran, Time-3m 48.30s Dist-2.5, 5 7/2 Fav Martinstown (14th)

2003-WINNER-LIBERMAN 5-11-06 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-2/1 Fav
2ND Trabolgan 5-11-06 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Seamus Durack; SP-50/1
3RD Widemouth Bay 5-11-06 Owner-Jackie Deithrick; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-33/1
25 ran, Time-3m 52.30s Dist-.5, 1

2002-WINNER-PIZARRO 5-11-06 Owner-Edward Wallace; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Jamie Spencer; SP-14/1
2ND-Rhinestone Cowboy 6-11-06 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/2 Fav
3RD-Back In Front 5-11-06 Owner-Nelius Hayes; Trainer-Edward O’Grady IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-12/1
23 ran, Time-4m 0.70s; Dist-nk, 3.5

2001-Race Cancelled

2000-WINNER-JOE CULLEN 5-11-06 Owner-Jackie Mullins; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-14/1
2ND-Inca 5-11-06 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-2/1 Fav
3RD-Be My Royal 5-11-06 Owner-Mrs Violet O’Leary; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr James Nash; SP-16/1
17 ran, Time-3m 41.20s, Dist-3.5, 2

1999-MONSIGNOR 5-11-06 Owner-Malcolm Denmark; Trainer-Mark Pitman; Jockey-Brendan Powell; SP-50/1
2ND-Golden Alpha 5-11-06 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/2
3RD-Canasta 5-10-13 Owner-Southern Brick & Tile Co./D S Arnold; Trainer-Mark Pitman; Jockey-Liam Corcoran; SP-25/1
25 ran, Time-3m 54.8s, Dist-1.5, .75 11/4 Fav Biliverdin (15th)

1998-WINNER-ALEXANDER BANQUET 5-11-06 Owner-M Swarbrick; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Ruby Walsh; SP-9/1
2ND-Joe Mac 4-10-12; Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Christy Roche IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-6/4 Fav
3RD-Frantic Tan 6-11-06; Owner-The Bunkers Hill Mob; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Carl Llewellyn; SP-8/1
25 ran, Time-3m 45.7s, Dist-2.5, 7

1997-WINNER-FLORIDA PEARL 5-11-06 Owner-Violet O’Leary; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
2ND-Arctic Camper 5-11-06 Owner-Lady Harris; Trainer-David Nicholson; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-16/1
3RD-All The Colours 4-10-12 Owner-Pat Byrnes; Trainer-John Mulhern IRE; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-8/1
25 ran, Time-3m 45.1s, Dist-5, 2 4/1 Fav Dawn Leader (13th)

1996-WINNER-WITHER OR WHICH 5-11-06 Owner-Robert Sinclair; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Willie Mullins; SP-11/4
2ND-Alzulu 5-11-06 Owner-D Buckle; Trainer-Jimmy FitzGerald; Jockey-Peter Niven; SP-25/1
3RD-Mighty Moss 5-10-13 Owner-Ken Hutsby; Trainer-David Nicholson; Jockey-Mr Fred Hutsby; SP-33/1
24 ran, Time-3m 53.7s, Dist-2, 3 9/4 Fav Andanito (4th)

1995-WINNER-DATO STAR 4-10-12 Owner-Kath Riley & Joe Donald; Trainer-Malcolm Jefferson; Jockey-Mark Dwyer; SP-7/2
2ND-Red Blazer 4-10-12 Owner-Tom Shrimpton; Trainer-Henrietta Knight; Jockey-Jamie Osborne SP-2/1 Fav
3RD-Skehanagh Bridge 6-11-06 Owner-David Pim; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Willie Mullins; SP-12/1
21 Ran, Time-4m 02.2s. Dist-1.25, 3.5

1994-WINNER-MUCKLEMEG 6-11-05 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Edward O'Grady IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-7/2 Fav
2ND-Aries Girl 5-11-03 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Pat Flynn IRE; Jockey-Shay Barry; SP-5/1
3RD-Go Ballistic 5-11-03 Owner-Sheila Lockhart; Trainer-David Nicholson; Jockey-Robert Massey; SP-16/1
25 Ran, Time-3m 53.7s, Dist-3, 15

1993-WINNER-RHYTHM SECTION 4-10-11 Owner-Robert Sinclair; Trainer-Homer Scott IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-16/1
2ND-Heist 4-11-02 Owner-Mrs G Matthews; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-9/4 Fav
3RD-Winter Belle 5-11-13 Owner-John Muldoon; Trainer-Paddy Prendergast IRE; Jockey-John Shortt; SP-7/1
24 Ran, Time-3m 45.2s, Dist-.5, 1

1992-WINNER-MONTELADO 5-11-13 Owner-Ollie Hannon; Trainer-Pat Flynn IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-8/1
2ND-Tiananmen Square 4-10-12 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Mr Tim Hyde; SP-6/4 Fav
3RD-Maneree 5-11-08 Owner-Michael Tabor; Trainer-Neville Callaghan; Jockey-Declan Murphy; SP-7/1
23 Ran, Time-3m 58.2s, Dist-12, 10



The Weatherbys Champion Bumper is the only Grade One National Hunt Flat race to be run in Great Britain and the contest was introduced at The Festival in 1992. During its early years, the race was sponsored by the Tote (1992), Guinness (1993), Bromsgrove Industries (1994), Prestige Medical (1995) and Bi Group (1996). Weatherbys, racing’s administrators, have backed the two mile, one furlong contest since 1997.

One of the most fiercely-contested races at The Festival, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper often has a maximum field. A total of 25 horses lined up in 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999 & 2003, while 24, the current safety limit, have come under starters orders in six of the past nine renewals. The smallest line up was in 2000, when Joe Cullen led home a field of 17.

Willie Mullins has saddled seven 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 both Cousin Vinny won in 2008 and Champagne Fever scored for the stable in 2012.

Four jockeys have ridden two winners apiece - Richard Dunwoody (Montelado (1992), Florida Pearl (1997)), Charlie Swan (Mucklemeg (1994), Joe Cullen (2000)) plus current riders Paul Carberry (Rhythm Section (1993), Hairy Molly (2006)) and amateur Patrick Mullins (Cousin Vinny (2008), Champagne Fever (2012)).

The Weatherbys Champion Bumper is restricted to horses aged four to six and five-year-olds boast the best record with 13 wins. Six-year-olds have struck on four occasions, while Rhythm Section (1993), Dato Star (1995) and Cue Card (2010) are the only four-year-olds to be successful.

With often little form to go on, the Weatherbys Champion Bumper has traditionally been a poor race for favourite backers, with only three winning in 20 runnings. Liberman is the shortest-priced winner, obliging at odds of 2/1 in 2003. Monsignor is the longest-priced winner, scoring at 50/1 in 1999, while Hairy Molly (33/1 in 2006) and Cue Card (40/1 in 2010) have also triumphed at long odds.

Irish-trained horses enjoy a superb record in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, accounting for 15 of the 20 winners. Dato Star (1995, Malcolm Jefferson), Monsignor (1999, Mark Pitman), Liberman (2003, Martin Pipe), Cue Card (2010, Colin Tizzard) and Cheltenian (2011, Philip Hobbs) are the British-trained scorers.

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 The Festival in 1993, the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Willie Mullins partnered the first of his seven winners, Wither Or Which, to victory in 1996, while Ruby Walsh recorded his first Festival success in the race on Alexander Banquet in 1998.

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