Punters hope to take a bow on what could be a Black day for bookmakers
Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) | 4-6yo | 2m87yds | RUK
Which of Willie Mullins' team is the one to be on?
Willie Mullins is the only starting point for any discussion on the Champion Bumper as he has trained no fewer than eight winners of the race – and rode one of them as well for good measure.
Mullins has not added to that tally since 2013 but is going all out to gain a ninth success with five runners, including Blackbow, who has been favourite since his win at Leopardstown last month.
WILLIE MULLINS BUMPER WINNERS
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Carefully Selected and Tornado Fyer are other candidates that the betting suggests need serious consideration and the trainer, whose views are expressed in full in his daily Racing Post column, said: "Blackbow and Carefully Selected are two from two and will like the testing conditions.
"We think Tornado Flyer is better than he looked when winning on his debut while Relegate showed a lot of improvement last time."
Can Rhinestone turn the tables on Blackbow?
Blackbow achieved an awesome Racing Post rating of 142 when winning at Leopardstown but Rhinestone was only a length and a half back in second.
And plenty feel the runner-up could emerge on top five weeks on, as he came from some way off the pace that day, sitting in last place at halfway, and stayed on to really good effect in last two furlongs.
Trainer Joseph O'Brien said: "He's won on heavy, so the ground shouldn't be a problem. He ran very well when second in a good race at Leopardstown last time and we've been very happy with him since."
How significant is it that Gigginstown run Felix Desjy?
This is not a contest Gigginstown have targeted – they have had 19 festival winners in the last dozen years but only a handful of runners in this race in all that time.
But Felix Desjy comes here on the back of Punchestown and Down Royal wins, fitted with a hood by Gordon Elliott, who took this with Fayonagh last year.
"We think he's a very good horse," said the trainer. "He's been working very well and all is good with him. He should go on the ground no problem."
Will Didtheyleaveuoutto cope with the ground?
Didtheyleaveuoutto looks one of the main British hopes for a race the home side have won just five times in 15 years.
But the ground was no worse than good to soft when he scored in Listed company at Ascot in December and he'll find conditions much more testing.
"It's not ideal, but he runs," said trainer Nick Gifford. "I don't think he'll go on heavy, but you don't know until you try.
"It's a big quandary, but he's a very talented horse and if he goes in the ground he should go very close."
Will Acey Milan get a better result than AC Milan against Arsenal?
The main British hope judged on the form book and the betting looks to be Acey Milan, a Listed winner here and at Newbury since the turn of the year.
Trainer Anthony Honeyball is very hopeful, and said: "Every single box is ticked and there are no excuses.
"He's won two Listed races and gets more weight from his elders here as he has no penalty this time.
"He's won round Cheltenham and copes well with the ground. If he runs his race he should be bang there."
What they say
Fergal O'Brien, trainer of Mercy Mercy Me
He'll really like the testing ground and he's man enough for the job at the age of six. He's a nice, well-bred horse and this is the right bumper for him with the ground as it is. He's not the quickest but the ground will slow everything else down and he'll be staying on well.
David Pipe, trainer of Know The Score
He did it nicely at Towcester and the second has come out and won a bumper since. The rain is perfect for him and he's a nice horse for the future. He's not really a bumper horse, but I could see him running a decent race.
Ben Pauling, trainer of Nestor Park
He’s not really an outright bumper horse – he’ll make a fabulous novice hurdler next season – but will really enjoy the ground. He’s got an each-way squeak.
Tom George, trainer of Seddon and The Big Bite
They're two smart young horses, although we're going into the unknown regarding the heavy ground. I've never worked them together so it's tough to split them but I'm hopeful they'll run well, and they'll make lovely novice hurdlers.
Gary Moore, trainer of The Flying Sofa
His first run behind Nick Gifford's horse was very good and that horse is one of the leading fancies. His second run was a mess-up by me but he came right last time. I could quite easily see him knocking on the door.
Joe Tizzard, assistant to Colin Tizzard, trainer of Jaytrack Parkhomes
It's a bit of an afterthought but he won nicely enough in a weak race at Fontwell. He's improved for Fontwell. It's ultra-hot but he won't embarrass himself.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Volcano
He has to find a bit with the best of the Irish but is in good form.
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