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Daphne Du Clos The Selection In Intriguing Champion Bumper

Tuesday 28th February 2017

The Champion Bumper is next up in our ante-post preview series, and our regular contributor Steve Chambers has been handed the task of trying to decipher the form guide, and you can find his big-race selection here for the final race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins will have some notable names missing from his star-studded squad at this year's Festival, but could the master of Co. Carlow have a new National Hunt sensation in the shape of Carter McKay, who is currently a clear 3/1 favourite with bet365 for the Champion Bumper, or could the exciting youngster be ousted by an improving rival in this event?

McKay A Warm Order To Hand Mullins More Bumper Success

Since Wither Or Which won the Champion Bumper for Willie Mullins in 1996, for which he was also in the saddle that day, the dominant Irish handler has saddled eight winners of the coveted Flat contest, and Carter McKay will be aiming to hand the Closutton trainer a ninth win in the race on March 15.

Having won a point-to-point in April 2016, Carter McKay was switched to the Mullins yard, and he duly kicked off his campaign with a win at Leopardstown in December, before he went on to beat West Coast Time (16/1) at Naas a couple of weeks ago, and it's no surprise to see him heading the current betting.

Sent to the front from the flag fall at Naas he travelled eye-catchingly well before pulling clear of Joseph O'Brien's West Coast Time, and if he can continue on a progressive incline then it's hard to see him not being a major player here.

Mullins was very bullish when discussing his exciting six-year-old at his annual pre-Cheltenham stable tour earlier this week, and with the handler having such a fine record in this race it's hard to see him out of the frame, but at his current price is he really a betting option? I think not.

Daphne Du Clos The Value Play Against Jolly

Nicky Henderson may have over half-a-century of Cheltenham Festival wins to his name, but the Seven Barrows maestro has yet to saddle the winner of the Champion Bumper.  However, his luck could change this season as he is set to saddle the hugely exciting filly Daphne Du Clos, who was last seen storming to victory at Newbury.

Currently a best-priced 8/1 with Coral, the daughter of Spanish Moon improved hugely for her debut start at Cheltenham, where she finished second to Cap Soleil (28/1 with Sky Bet), and comfortably dispatched of Western Ryder (12/1 with Ladbrokes) when the pair met at Newbury on February 11.

She quickened up impressive for Sean Bowen that day, and you have to consider that she will receive all of the weight allowances in the Champion Bumper, as not only will she gain the four-year-old allowance, but also the filly allowance, so off 10st 4lb for the race she could well benefit hugely from that advantage, and could well put it up to Carter McKay.

It's very rare to see a four-year-old filly line up in this contest, and you have to think Henderson has some big plans for her over obstacles in the coming years, so she has to be held in very high regard to take her chance, and could well be the one to take on the jolly with, while from an each-way perspective you can't dismiss both the aforementioned duo of Cap Soleil and Western Ryder, who has a positive form line alongside Daphne Du Clos, who is the selection.

Ballyward And Next Destination Add Depth To Mullins Charge

While Carter McKay may fly the flag for the Mullins Bumper team this season, it's no surprise to see him have a plethora of entries towards the head of the market and in Ballyward and Next Destination he could have another brace of exciting youngsters that could take their chance in the final race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

Ballyward is potentially the most exciting out of the pair, as he was a facile 16-length winner at Leopardstown in December, and at 12/1 with Betfred could be one that lands a significant blow in this race, and he could be the mount of Ruby Walsh, should Patrick Mullins get the leg up on the race favourite Carter McKay.

Next Destination was less impressive on his debut, but he showed a great attitude to beat Derrinross at Fairyhouse on New Year's Day, and he is another worth watching out for at 20/1 with Ladbrokes, but he could well be the third string for Mullins.

Cause Toujours Is Best Of The Rest

Cue Card showed several years ago when winning at 40/1 that there can often be a big-priced winner of this race that propels into the limelight and Dan Skelton's exciting five-year-old Cause Toujours (16/1 with Coral) was a fine seven-length winner at Warwick in December, and is entitled to take his chance here.

Bakmaj is another that could line up in the Wednesday finale, and the Irish raider is currently a 25/1 chance with bet365 bookmakers, and he shaped with real promise when winning at Leopardstown in late January, and he has to be another to watch in a race that can go the way of Daphne Du Clos, which can hand team Henderson another big-race success at the home of National Hunt racing.

Selection - Daphne Du Clos to win @ 8/1 with Coral Bookmakers

*Price correct at time of writing.

2017 Champion Bumper Odds

Malone Road 14/1
Mt Leinster 12/1
Fury Road 20/1
Royal Rendezvous 20/1
Column Of Fire 25/1
El Barra 25/1
Abacadabras Ms Lisa O'Neill / G Elliott 25/1
Silver Forever 25/1
Commander Of Fleet 25/1
Gypsy Island 33/1
Asterion Forlonge 33/1
Midnight Run 33/1
Sending Love 33/1
Ontheropes 33/1
Tegerek 33/1
Andy Dufresne 33/1
Tara West 33/1
Yukon Lil 33/1
Rebel Og 33/1
Strong Glance 33/1
Chapmanshype 33/1
Energumene 33/1
Envoi Allen Mr J J Codd / G Elliott 33/1
Mcfabulous 40/1
Golden Spread 40/1
Golazo 40/1
Aggressive 50/1
Breaking Waves 50/1
Master Debonair R M Power / C L Tizzard 50/1
Robyndzone 50/1
Alright Sunshine 66/1
Ask Neilus 66/1
Each Way Terms 3

7. Abacadabras Ms Lisa O'Neill / G Elliott
23. Envoi Allen Mr J J Codd / G Elliott
29. Master Debonair R M Power / C L Tizzard
Odds correct as of 10th Apr, 16:01 . Odds are subject to change.
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