What is a bumper horse race? Paddy’s guide to the horse racing term

Bumper horse races may be a weird anomaly in UK racing but they also boast great betting potential

Paddy Power bumper horse racing explained

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Bumper horse races are one of the oddest quirks of the sport and can lead to confusion for new racing betting punters.

But don’t worry because Paddy Power is here to help bust through the jargon and explain exactly what a bumper horse race is.

First of all we must untangle the terminology around race types. There are two seasons in the UK and Irish racing calendar: National Hunt and Flat. The National Hunt season runs over the winter months and requires horses to jump over fences and hurdles during races. The Flat season takes place during the summer, when the firmer ground makes jumping less comfortable for both horses and jockeys.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a crossover between flat and jumps during the season—and this is where bumper races come into play. 

Cheltenham Champion Bumper race explained

Bumper races such as the Cheltenham Champion Bumper are run at National Hunt meetings (GETTY)

BUMPER HORSE RACE EXPLAINED

A bumper race is simply a race without jumps that is run at a National Hunt meet. Horses must be aged seven years or under and must not have raced in a National Hunt meet before (apart from in other bumper races).

The reason for a bumper race is to familiarise horses with running at racecourses without adding the further strain of them needing to jump hurdles or fences. Once a horse has run one bumper they might run more, or progress to jumps. This experience can be vital for a horse’s development.

There are plenty of bumpers staged during the calendar but the best bumper race is at Cheltenham Festival.

The Cheltenham Champion Bumper race is a Grade 1 race that runs just over two miles. It is open to horses aged between four and six years, and was established back in 1992.

Cheltenham Champion Bumper race explained by Paddy Power

The Cheltenham Champion Bumper race is one of the biggest bumpers of the season (GETTY)

HOW TO BET ON A BUMPER RACE

Betting on bumper races is one of the richest sources of upsets you can find in racing betting. That’s because these horses are untested at racecourses and so it’s notoriously hard to predict a winner.

Races can also be fairly slow due to the ‘rookie’ nature of the horses running. And this makes the horse racing odds very difficult to price accurately.

Horse racing betting tipsters therefore tend to take the opportunity to back long-odds horses and hope to unearth a winner from the pack.

Paddy Power bumper race

A bumper race card looks exactly the same as a normal race card (PP)

BEST CHELTENHAM BUMPER ODDS

Paddy Power is the place to get the best Cheltenham Champion Bumper odds every year of the Festival.

And there are always plenty of upsets in this race! Between 2010 and 2020 just two favourites won the Bumper. Indeed, 2010 saw Cue Card storm to victory at 40/1. The horse would go on to win the King George VI Chase and compete for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Retired jockey Ruby Walsh boasts a record three Bumper wins, while Willie Mullins has fielded winners in the race for over two decades.

DEMYSTIFYING RACING

Discover more in Paddy’s Demystifying Racing series of guides…

THE PADDY POWER GUIDE TO RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

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