Cheltenham tips: Champion Bumper antepost pick revealed by Ruby Walsh

Ruby reckons Sir Gerhard is rock solid for the Champion Bumper.

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The Champion Bumper is the most prestigious bumper race in the racing calendar and showcases some of the most promising horses that will one day shine over fences and hurdles.

Ruby Walsh won the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival three times in his career on Alexander Banquet, Missed That and Briar Hill. Paddy Power’s resident jockey-turned-pundit has taken a keen look at the leading contenders for the 2021 renewal.

Speaking on the latest episode of our special ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast series, our main man explained why he’s not convinced by antepost favourite Kilcruit. Paddy Power is offering non-runner money back on all 28 races so there’s no risk of losing out if your pick pulls out.

You can listen to the full show BELOW.

A lot of horses can lose the Champion Bumper between the saddling box and the start at a normal Cheltenham Festival when you have 70,000 people in the venue. It’s run late in the day when people are leaving, there’s litter blowing around and it can be loud with cars and helicopters leaving. The occasion can get to them before they line up.

I’ve ridden horses in the Champion Bumper that were quite short priced and by the time the tape went back they’d already run three races in their own head because they were so worked up. Obviously that will not happen this year as there’ll be no crowd, helicopters, litter or noise.

If you think about what a bumper is it’s basically a grassroots race for the development of a racehorse. Therefore, very few bumpers are run flat out from the word go earlier in the season but it doesn’t mean after having that run and with the extra work that horses get they are up to that point by Cheltenham.

The bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival fell apart as LETSBECLEARABOUTIT went a really strong gallop on the front and a lot of horses got sucked in and it capitulated to allow KILCRUIT to come home unchallenged. I’m not certain about the strength of that race as the finishing speed was quite weak.

Because the downhill before you turn in at Cheltenham allows horses to fill their lungs with oxygen, there aren’t many races that have a slow finishing speed. You need to stay and you need pace but I’m not certain Kilcruit’s Leopardstown performance when you take everything into account entitles him to be as short a price as he is.

SIR GERHARD was rock solid at Down Royal and really impressive at Navan when he beat Letsbeclearaboutit. I loved the turn of foot he showed on that occasion. It was a big clash and there was no doubt which was the best horse after the race. I have been a Sir Gerhard fan since I watched him winning at Down Royal and I don’t have any reason to change my mind. I think he’s rock solid. The Navan performance was every bit as good as Kilcruit’s performance at Leopardstown.

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RAMILLIES is a huge price and he’s a horse with a huge engine. He got involved in the bumper at Leopardstown a long way from home. He looked quite big in the parade ring afterwards and the complete opposite of Kilcruit, who always looks very fit, almost too fit. I thought Ramillies could have improved for Leopardstown and, ridden more efficiently, I could see him getting a lot closer to Kilcruit.

GRANGEE bounced back at Leopardstown. She’s a handy filly but I was surprised she won at the Dublin Racing Festival and with the greatest respect I’ll be even as surprised if she was to go and win at Cheltenham.

Champion Bumper Bet Summary – Wednesday, March 17

Ruby Walsh – Sir Gerhard

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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