Mullins assembling strong team for latest Bumper bid

Appreciate It heads the market for Festival showpiece.

  • Wednesday 26 February
  • News
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Red-hot favourite Appreciate It is one of four potential runners for Willie Mullins in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.

It is 24 years since the County Carlow handler trained and rode Wither Or Which to claim the Grade One prize, since when he has saddled another eight winners, with Florida Pearl (1997), Alexander Banquet (1998) and Champagne Fever (2012) among those on the roll of honour.

Appreciate It is a best-priced 7-4 to add to the Mullins tally at this year’s Festival, having won two of his three starts to date, including a brilliant display at the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this month.

Ferny Hollow is in contention for Mullins after belatedly getting off the mark at Fairyhouse last weekend, while the Closutton quartet is completed by another Fairyhouse winner, Five Bar Brian, and Thurles scorer Energumene.

Speaking when hosting the media at his yard last week, Mullins said Appreciate It “has done everything right in his two runs and will have a big chance”.

He added: “He has a huge cruising speed, which is probably what you need for the race. He’d have to be one of our main hopes.”

One of the big threats to the Mullins brigade is a former stablemate in the shape of Panic Attack. The daughter of Canford Cliffs made a sparkling debut in a Listed event at Market Rasen, but has since been bought privately and is now in training with David Pipe.

Pipe could also call upon Israel Champ and Make Me A Believer.

Gordon Elliott has saddled two of the last three winners of the Champion Bumper in Fayonagh (2017) and Envoi Allen (2019) – and this year has four hopefuls in Farouk D’Alene, Darling Daughter, Eskylane and Queens Brook.

Roger Teal’s Godolphin-bred Newbury winner Ocean Wind also features in the 35 entries and impressed when winning in Listed company, although only Cue Card has struck as a four-year-old since the race’s early years.

Mullins assembling strong team for latest Bumper bid

Cheltenham 17:30, 11 March 2020

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