1st (8) Cousin Vinny 12-1
The Mullins family has long been synonymous with success at Cheltenham and there was a new name on the roll of honour after today’s concluding Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
The 18-year-old Patrick Mullins partnered Cousin Vinny, trained by his father Willie, to an emphatic success and returned to a huge cheer in the winner’s enclosure.
“I think I’ve ridden 39 winners but I’d swap them all for this one,” said the successful rider, who is still at school and will take his leaving certificate in June. “I didn’t have a choice about which of Dad’s I would ride, he picked which ones we would all be on but I was happy to be aboard Cousin Vinny.
“He travelled so well that I was concerned he might be going too easily and not keep going but in the end it was a matter of how far he was going to win by. This was my only ride and I’ll be celebrating tomorrow.”
Willie Mullins, who was saddling his sixth winner of the race, also rode one of those horses to victory - Wither Or Which in 1996.
“Patrick is not going to ride for too long because he’s tall and will probably get too heavy,” said the winning trainer. “I thought this might be his only chance ever of getting a win here and I was just hoping that I’d got him on the right one, but we managed it.
“I just thought this horse’s finishing speed would come into play but I was worried it might be getting too soft because the horse is by Bob Back, you worry about everything at Cheltenham.”
“It’s been a hell of a long day and it seems a long time since we were walking the course this morning but this will give us all a bit of a lift.”
A RIGHT ROYALE TIME FOR THE QUEEN MAEVE RACING CLUB
Willie Mullins, trainer of Cousin Vinny, winner of the Weatherbys Bumper, said to Noel Meade, trainer of second-placed Corskeagh Royale, “I thought you were going to catch me up the hill.”
“Believe me,” replied Meade, “I was trying.”
Corskeagh Royale could not quite bridge the gap with the Mullins’ charge even though the winner ran green up the hill, but Meade thought his horse had “come home well and could improve - he’s still a little bit hyper.”
The trainer had no complaints either from the owners of Corskeagh Royale who had turned up mob-handed to cheer their horse.
The members of the Queen Maeve Racing Club are based in Roscommon and Mayo and 132 of them chartered a flight to Cheltenham to watch their horse. Having had to wait for nine races and over five hours, their celebrations were suitably demonstrative.
Zaarito had started a solid 3/1 favourite but, coming late, the horse had never quite got into contention.
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER PAST RESULTS
ALL STAR 5-11-05 Owner-Cathal Ryan; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry
MOLLY 6-11-05 Owner-F T B Syndicate; Trainer-Joe Crowley
IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-33/1
THAT 6-11-05 Owner-Violet O’Leary;
Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-7/2 Fav
2004-WINNER-TOTAL ENJOYMENT 5-10-12 Owner-It Will Never Last Syndicate;
Trainer-Tommy Cooper IRE; Jockey-Jim Culloty; SP-7/1
2003-WINNER-LIBERMAN 5-11-06 Owner-David Johnson; Trainer-Martin Pipe;
Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-2/1 Fav
2002-WINNER-PIZARRO 5-11-06 Owner-Edward Wallace;
IRE; Jockey-Jamie Spencer; SP-14/1
2000-WINNER-JOE CULLEN 5-11-06 Owner-Jackie Mullins; Trainer-Willie
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-14/1
1999-MONSIGNOR 5-11-06 Owner-Malcolm Denmark; Trainer-Mark Pitman; Jockey-Brendan
1998-WINNER-ALEXANDER BANQUET 5-11-06 Owner-M Swarbrick; Trainer-Willie
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Ruby Walsh; SP-9/1
1997-WINNER-FLORIDA PEARL 5-11-06 Owner-Violet
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
1996-WINNER-WITHER OR WHICH 5-11-06 Owner-Robert Sinclair; Trainer-Willie
Mullins IRE; Jockey-Mr Willie Mullins; SP-11/4
1995-WINNER-DATO STAR 4-10-12 Owner-Kath Riley & Joe
Donald; Trainer-Malcolm Jefferson; Jockey-Mark Dwyer; SP-7/2
1994-WINNER-MUCKLEMEG 6-11-05 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Edward O'Grady
IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-7/2 Fav
1993-WINNER-RHYTHM SECTION 4-10-11 Owner-Robert Sinclair; Trainer-Homer
Scott IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-16/1
1992-WINNER-MONTELADO 5-11-13 Owner-Ollie Hannon; Trainer-Pat Flynn
IRE; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-8/1
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER ROLL OF HONOUR
(Weatherbys Champion Bumper since 1997, Bi Group Festival Bumper 1996, Prestige Medical Festival Bumper 1995, Bromsgrove Industries Festival Bumper 1994, Guinness Festival Bumper 1993, Tote Festival Bumper 1992)
Year Winner Age/Wt Owner Trainer Jockey SP Ran
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER FACTS & FIGURES
1. The first winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper was Montelado, who achieved what is thought to be the unique feat of winning two consecutive Festival races. The Bumper, now run on Wednesday, was originally the last race of the Festival. Montelado went on to win the opening race of the 1993 Festival, the Trafalgar House Supreme Novices' Hurdle, which is now sponsored by Anglo Irish Bank.
2. Irish-trained runners have a great record in the race, accounting for 12 of the 15 winners. Willie Mullins has incredibly saddled five of the last 11 winners.
3. The three horses to have kept the trophy at home were Dato Star in 1995, Monsignor, who sprang a 50/1 surprise in 1999, and Liberman, who gave Martin Pipe his first and only win in the race in 2003.
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