Having won eight runnings of the Cheltenham Champion Bumper since its inception 23 years ago, trainer Willie Mullins’ National Hunt rookies always attract early attention, so Bordini’s hard-fought victory at Navan will have been duly noted.
The French-bred gelding was vying for Champion Bumper-favouritism with stablemate Lyrical Theatre and David Pipe’s Moon Racer prior to this win, after putting a stout field to the sword on debut at Punchestown in November.
Bordini went even better in County Meath, with Mullins’ son Patrick steering his charge through everything chucked at them by challengers Rock On The Moor and Attribution, who was the most-tipped horse in the race, to run out a six-and-a-half length winner at 4/7.
The County Carlow handler has been particularly exceptional in ‘The Bumper’ over the past three years, taking it in 2012 and 2013, then supplying the second, fourth and sixth-placed horses last March in Shaneshill, Black Hercules and Killultagh Vic.
None of that trio, who amounted to Mullins’ full hand, went off at a bigger price than 8/1, with the former beaten one-and-a-half lengths by Dermot Weld’s Silver Concorde as 7/2 favourite, so Bordini and Lyrical Theatre are extremely likely to go off at similarly-small odds.
It wasn’t the best day for Mullins, with no other winners on the card despite sending four fancied horses including Shaneshill, who went down by one-and-three-quarter lengths to Gordon Elliott’s No More Heroes earlier in the day.
That was just the second time the son of King’s Theatre has been beaten under rules and Ladbrokes.com clearly believe he’ll still be a big player at the Festival.
The five-year-old is priced up among the favourites for the Neptune and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdles at 10/1 and 14/1 three months out from the Prestbury Pack jamboree, although Mullins will surely aim for the latter of those events.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £25 in free bets.