Festival throwback: Relive Irish success in the Champion Bumper


Willie Mullins a nine-time winner of Cheltenham's top national hunt flat race

Thursday, February 13, 2020
pizarrojamiespencerchampionbumper

Jamie Spencer wins the Champion Bumper on Pizarro in 2002, a race his father won 39 years previously


Ireland enjoys a rich history of success in the most prestigious flat race in the National Hunt season with a proven track record of seeing winners graduate to success over obstacles.

Willie Mullins has scooped nine wins since Wither or Which triumphed in 1996 while Ruby Walsh's three wins make him the most successful jockey in the race's history.

Champagne Fever, 2012


A classy front-running performer who graduated from winning the Champion Bumper to take the Festival's opening race 12 months later, the Supreme Novices'. 

He started an outsider for his first Festival race with trainer's son Patrick Mullins in the saddle.

But the jockey fired him into the lead after just a furlong and held off a mass of challengers to win by one and a quarter lengths.

"He's a super horse," said Mullins, after he followed up Prestbury Park success at the Punchestown Festival. "He just gallops all day, he obviously stays well and he jumps well."

Pizarro, 2002


As races go this win was certainly dramatic. The weight of expectation was on favourite Rhinestone Cowboy but it was Edward O'Grady's Pizarro that edged him out in a dramatic finish, only settled after a lengthy stewards' enquiry. 

Indeed it had long gone dark before the crowd was informed that Jamie Spencer's mount had been victorious.

"This is a very special win for me because 39 years ago, my father George won the Champion Hurdle here with Winning Fair," he said.

"I begged Mr O'Grady to give me a ride in the race and I am glad I repaid his faith in me." 

READ: Festival throwback: Relive Irish success in the Champion Chase

READ: Festival throwback: Relive Irish success in the RSA Chase

Florida Pearl, 1997


Richard Dunwoody was in no doubt what Florida Pearl could achieve after a confident five length win in the 1997 Champion Bumper.

He predicted he'd be back for the following year's Supreme Novices' - and 12 months later the Willie Mullins trained stable star was a two-time Festival winner.

READ: Relive Irish success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Check out our Road to Cheltenham microsite with the best of the Irish challenge at the Festival

This is a very special win for me because 39 years ago, my father George won the Champion Hurdle here with Winning Fair. I begged Mr O'Grady to give me a ride in the race and I am glad I repaid his faith in me.
- Jamie Spencer on Pizarro

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