Liz Doyle does not have one of the biggest yards in Ireland by a long stretch, but history suggests that she knows a good bumper horse when she sees one.
Both 2010 Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper runner-up Al Ferof and 2011 winner Cheltenian passed through Doyle’s care in the early stages of their careers, before moving onto bigger yards.
She looks to have found another one with serious prospects this year with Le Vent D’Antan, who can currently be backed at 9/1 to land one of the toughest races to call at the Festival.
Doyle will maintain training duties herself this time, but has promoted the horse’s chances by indicating that he works as well as Cheltenian ever did at home.
Furthermore, the anticipated rain in the days before Cheltenham will only be in the favour of the four-year-old, who was a winner on heavy ground at Leopardstown on his only start to date.
Having taken the widest route throughout that race, Le Vent D’Antan joined the leaders on the bridle heading into the final furlong, before easing clear with a little more than a shake of the reins.
What he beat remains a mystery, but the fact that it was quite a big field must be considered an advantage given the numbers that will turn up at Cheltenham.
In fact, 16 of the last 20 Champion Bumper winners had gained experience in a race involving at least 14 runners before heading to the Festival and exactly 14 took part at Leopardstown.
Meanwhile, Ireland have won 15 of the 20 previous renewals of the Champion Bumper, despite being responsible for only a third of the runners in this period.
The obvious negatives to the chances of Le Vent D’Antan are that he has only had the one racecourse start so is fairly inexperienced, while the majority of the winners in the last 15 years have been aged five.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.