If Gordon Elliott is to upset Willie Mullins for the Cheltenham Festival’s Leading Trainer award, he will more than likely need a couple of his outsiders to get some unexpected results across the famed four-day meet at Prestbury Park.
The esteemed Irish trainer will have the opportunity to do just that in the Festival’s only flat race on the card – the Champion Bumper. While Ellliott’s entries aren’t favoured in the Cheltenham day 2 antepost betting lines – in this article, we are going to dissect his top contenders along with their form and best path to victory in the Grade 1 two-mile and half a furlong affair.
Better Days Ahead
While in-form thoroughbreds It’s For Me, A Dream To Share and Fun Fun Fun will prove hard to beat, Elliott’s best chance of securing a win in the Champion Bumper is his 12/1 chance Better Days Ahead. Although it’s only a small sample size, his three appearances since his maiden run in February of last year have been impressive. With a win on debut at Lisronagh and another victory at Fairyhouse, along with a narrow loss at Down Royal – and Better Days Ahead could be good value as a double-digit shot.
Pour Les Filles
Undefeated in his opening two starts, five-year-old Pour Les Filles enters the bumper at 16/1 – which is good for ninth favourite. The British horse’s performance on debut was particularly worth noting, as he ran on well in what was a three-mile affair. Therefore, with a strong showing over distance and a small but successful run of form on his side, Pour Les Filles is an unknown commodity whose stamina and finishing speed could cause some of the better-fancied thoroughbreds some headaches.
King of Kingsfield
After beginning his career with back-to-back triumphs by 30 and three-and-a-half lengths respectively, Irish horse King of Kingsfield disappointed in his most recent outing at Leopardstown in December – in which he finished fifth. His inability to match the leaders’ pace would be a cause for concern for Elliott – however – he has displayed enough in his wins that he could be worth an each-way bet at 25/1.
No Time To Wait
With two falls to kickstart his point-to-point racing campaign last year, 25/1 bumper shot No Time To Wait has looked more impressive in his two subsequent outings. Dropping down in trip has worked wonders for the five-year-old, with a third-placed finish at Leopardstown and a 15-length victory in his most recent run at Down Royal showing he has some potential.
Whether or not he can challenge at Cheltenham is a different story, but with so many inexperienced horses and unproven commodities in this field, stranger things have happened.
Another 25/1 hope, six-year-old Quantum Storm has only raced twice in his career to date, both of which he finished second. The gelding showed promise on both occasions, taking the lead in the final furlong before weakening down the stretch. He can’t afford to fade late if he’s to reign supreme in the Champion Bumper, and if he does, it’s hard to see him beating some of the favourites given their sound turn of foot and finishing speed up the straight.