This first list is based on horses currently quoted in the main bookmaker lists. I personally think anyone would be mad to back any horse at this stage as probably half of these won’t run..but, of course, I could be the mad one!
Au Quart De Tour
Won his first race pretty comfortably but probably not form to justify favouritism. I expected him to have another run before Cheltenham but the only race now is at Naas on the 22nd; but that is a race Up for Review may run in. If he doesn’t run again he will have a lot to prove at Cheltenham; right now, his price is based mainly on reputation and Willie Mullin’s comments (which are not to be easily dismissed) Update - apparently he has been sick. I am sure he will be entered on Monday but it has to be 50:50 about him going now
Same ownership as Au Quart De Tour and is going to go straight to Cheltenham. Has been impressive on soft ground but more to prove on better going.
Up for Review
This is the Mullin’s horse I have been most impressed by; I expect him to run at Naas on the 22nd and to win. After that he may well be favourite for the race. (Now confirmed for Naas race)
Will be going straight to Cheltenham. To my mind, has shown the most impressive form of the English runners. His win at Fairyhouse has worked out well and so has his win at Cheltenham in October. He was held up first time and made all the second time and , of course, has shown course form and on the likely good/soft or dead going. Scared of this one.
His win in a Listed race at Ascot was good and has worked at pretty well. He’s been sold to Alan and Ann Potts and is now with Henry De Bromhead. He certainly enjoyed the soft ground at Ascot and will need to transfer that form to the likely better going at Cheltenham. Trainer has only had one horse in the Champion Bumper in the last 5 years but I fully expect this one to turn up there.
Finished 4th to a stablemate in the Champion Bumper last year; form that would put him right up there. However, his run at Leopardstown at Christmas was disappointing and now has something to prove. They were toying with a hurdling campaign (entered in a couple of maiden hurdles) but are now focused on the Bumper
Balko Des Flos
Not sure why this horse is still priced up: Mullins has stated he is going to Limerick a couple of weeks after Cheltenham. Mullins did give him a positive mention on his Press Day but, in all honesty, the form lines with Jett and Be My Sea indicate he may be below the quality required and with Gigginstown sending "one, maybe two" its unlikely he makes the cut.
Owned by the Riccis. He’s been impressive in both wins so far and in good times. Likes to make the running but two miles may be on the sharp side for him; good horse. I prefer him to Au Quart De Tours and Bordini at this stage.
Has been very impressive in both wins on soft ground. The big question, apart from faster ground, is if Gigginstown will let him take part. I still think that’s 50:50 but he is the one they will send if they do decide to take a crack at it.
Wait For Me
Ran a nice race at Ascot yesterday (Feb14) beating a few previous winners. That being said, it wasn’t a particularly quick time (slower than novices hurdle) and was on soft ground. Hobbs loves a crack at the Bumper and this one may well go instead of Wishfull Dreaming now
The form has been ok and he run reasonably well behind Vigil at Christmas but I still don’t think he is of the standard of the other Mullin’s horses. For no good reason, I don’t think he will be travelling.
See the World
On the face of it his win at Wincanton was astonishing. Coming to a virtual walk , giving the leader a 15 length start with just over two furlongs to go and then winning, easing up. It was visually amazing and scared the life out of me. I then compared the his time from when he got going to the winning post to the time it took last year’s winner of the race for the same distance; his time was actually slower and both were on heavy ground. So the question remains: is he really that good or was it a particularly poor race? In any case, it will be very interesting to see how he performs if he turns up. He also has it to prove on faster ground. Today’s performance by Lincoln County did not boost the form
Valerian Bridge, Potters Point, Classic View, Master of Verse
All of the above are owned by Gigginstown. If they send any horses at all I highly doubt if any of the above would make the cut. They have two horses who seem significantly better (Stone Hard and General Principle) so they would be much more likely to go. If any of these go then it would likely be Valerian Bridge who has shown decent form on the likely ground.
Won very impressively first time and, despite being a Gigginstown horse, Gordon Elliott (trainer) has declared that he’s going to Cheltenham. We shall have to wait and see about that but definitely an interesting contender if he goes.
Great win on Saturday but that performance, on a line through Final Nudge, leaves him with a lot to find with Supasundae. He needs to prove himself on better ground and his front-running style may well see him exposed; he is also unproven on an undulating track.Since last week his trainer, Ben Pauling, has indicated he may well give Cheltenham a miss
The Ricci’s already have three horses likely to go (Au Quart De Tour, Bordini and PylonthePressure) so it has to be unlikely that this horse will make the trip. Was entered but not declared for Naas on Sunday
Very Much So
Good win at Punchestown last April but not seen since. Will be interesting if entered for the Naas Bumper on the 22nd but, if not, it would be an enormous ask to go straight to Cheltenham. Doubtful runner in my opinion Update - The Supreme Racing Club in the Irish Field that he will hopefully go to Cheltenham.
The bubble was slightly burst at Newbury last Saturday and I would doubt he will go for the race. The time of his win at Market Rasen was exceptionally slow and that form was probably overrated.
Another Ricci horse. He’s not even qualified at this point and has no current entries. Has to be a doubtful runner given the riches they already have in this race. Entered at Clonmel on Thursday 9Feb 19) Update: did not run at Clonmel and now is not qualified.
And another Ricci horse who is unraced. It would be highly unusual to have his first run this close to Cheltenham so I am inclined to think he will not be going. Has not run ans is not qualified
Not even sure who trains this one (although could hazard a guess) Anyway he’s unraced and it’s getting late.Update - Is not qualified
Cost a fortune but ran very disappointingly first time out. On that evidence he is way too short of a price but obviously thought capable of better. At this stage though he would need to come out and run really well to justify being in the race.(Entered at Newcastle and Chepstow at the weekend) Update - not declared at the weekend. Entered at Bangor on 25th
Philip Hobbs like to have a runner in this race and this could be a candidate. Did well to win at Cheltenham earlier this year having been almost brought down. However, the form of that race is not holding up particularly well and he is only a 4 year old; it is tough to see him winning this. Now that Elliott has indicated Jetstream Jack is going (same owner) possible he may not go.
Not beaten too far by Supasundae at Ascot and, to my mind, represents some of the best EW value ante post. Probably not good enough and may not even go there but would be interesting
Was visually impressive at Wetherby last time out but, on a line through the 3rd, Kara Tara, achieved no more than his previous run. One of the outsiders but would not be surprised if he took his chance
Nicky Henderson indicated this was the stronger bumper (vs Div 1 won by Newsworthy) after he had won at Kempton. Henderson has not had a runner since Ericht in 2011 so by no means certain to go there.
Entered at Punchestown on Wednesday. It’s tough for 4 year-olds and unclear how good the form was behind Balko Des Flos (the 3rd Be My Sea did not boost the form yesterday). His next run will answer a lot of questions Update: Disappointing run behind Disko at Punchestown on Wednesday
Won well at Chepstow; albeit on Chepstow heavy which has its own unique character. Not sure what’s going on – he’s not quoted in the betting anywhere but I understood him to be going for the Bumper. His Timeform rating puts him in the top 50%. (Entered at Kempton on Saturday) Update - declared at Kempton in a race that has cut up significantly. May not tell us too much particularly as ground is likely to be on the soft side and the question mark is how he performs on better ground
Trainer (Greatrex) has said he will have an entry after his pretty impressive Doncaster win. Fowm is a little debatable as you have to believe the 3rd recaptured his debut form. A bigger question for me would be the fact there will only be 21 days between races; last year he ran well on his debut and then, 19 days, later turned in a really poor performance. There may have been other factors but still a question mark
The following lists the runners (currently quoted by bookmakers) I expect to line up at Cheltenham if all of the rumors turn out to be true. (Timeform ratings included). I have placed an asterisk against those horses I consider less certain to go.
Au Quart De Tour 108
Up for Review 107
Moon Racer 117
Stone Hard 122 *
Wait For me 108
See the World 102/122
Bellshill 108 *
General Principle 111
Valerian Bridge 117 *
Very Much So 101 *
Barters Hill 113 *
Captain Chaos 102*
Jett 102 *
Vintage Clouds 107
Wishfull Dreaming 101 *
Jetstream Jack 103
OK Corral 108 *