Cheltenham Festival – Antepost Selection
With 7 weeks to go until the greatest show on turf, Willie Mullins usually has a strangle hold on the Champion Bumper market. His current crop of bumper horses wouldn’t appear a vintage bunch and time is running out for him to unleash a monster that could get on the boat to Cheltenham. Maughreen is currently the shortest priced representative from Closutton but I can’t help but feel the market overreacted to her tidy debut due to her being a close relative of the mighty Faugheen. Joystick was a gutsy winner at Leopardstown over Christmas but having won that day over two and a half miles, he looks a proper staying chaser for the future, and he may lack the gears required to win a Champion Bumper.
On the other hand, there appears to be a strong group of bumper horse at Cullentra for team Elliott. Romeo Coolio has been all the rage all season and is rumoured to work like an extremely good horse. He had a mid-season set back and we didn’t get to see him until a few weeks ago where he quickened up nicely to get the job done in workmanlike fashion. He will certainly appreciate a stronger gallop, but he displayed signs of greenness, running freely throughout. I think he’s potentially top class, but the occasion may get to him, and he could be one for next year as a staying novice hurdler.
That brings me to my selection in the race. Jalon D’Oudairies currently heads the market at 6/1 which I believe is an extremely fair price. A £420,000 PTP purchase, he made his debut for Gordon Elliott at Fairyhouse in December. He travelled strongly that day and quickened smartly to win comfortably. I loved the way he extended when asked to quicken and I duly followed him in at Leopardstown over Christmas. This time Redemption Day stood in his way and given how well the Mullins inmate was supported, I’d say he was ready to rumble after a break. Redemption Day travelled into the contest like the winner but Jalon D’Oudairies was game out in front. Redemption Day could never get to Jalon’s quarters and at the line Jolon D’Oudairies was extending away. Given Redemption Day’s exploits behind Facile Vega, this clearly represents extremely strong form.
Jalon D’Oudairies ticks all the boxes on the trends front too. The last 12 winners all won last time out, 7 of the last 9 winners were in the top 3 of the betting and the last 8 winners had all run at least twice that season. Market rivals Maughreen and Romeo Coolio have both run just once so far. Having recorded an RPR of 128, he’s proven he can run to a Champion Bumper winning standard.
Gordon Elliott last won the Champion Bumper with Envoi Allen and this fella reminds me of him. A chaser in time, he’s not short of gears, but he stays strongly too. Described as a “Proper Horse” by Gordon Elliott, the plan is to head straight to Cheltenham, and as a result, I think the 6/1 on offer could prove excellent value, especially if Redemption Day franks the form at the Dublin Racing Festival.
By No Risk At All (The sire of Allaho and Epatante) and by a Dam whose Sire was the Sire of Smad Place, Jalon D’oudairies possess a pedigree with a nice blend of pace and stamina. Visually reminiscent of Envoi Allen, I have decided to follow him in with one of my long-range darts. As stated in the piece, I fancy him to take a fair bit of beating in this years Champion Bumper and looking into the future I can see him being one for the newly named Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle. 2 of the last 12 winners of the Champion Bumper went on to contest Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle and interestingly they both won. The two horses (Envoi Allen 2019 & Sir Gerhard 2021) were both trained by that season by Gordon Elliott. Sir Gerhard had just moved to Closutton so was officially trained by Willie but throughout that season he was Gordons horse.
Subsequently, I have had a little play with Betfair for Jalon D’oudairies to win the 2024 Champion Bumper and 2025 Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle at 40/1. If he wins the Champion Bumper, we will be on some exceptional value and should he lose then there will more than likely be the chance to back him for the Baring Bingham at a fair enough price.