Champion Bumper interview with Tony Mullins

At the Dublin Festival, Willie Mullins’ Kilcruit easily demolished a strong field in the Goffs Future Stars I.N.H Flat Race by 12 lengths. The manner of the victory led bookmakers to make him a firm favourite for the Champion Bumper, cutting his odds to as short as 13/8 for the race.

I spoke to Kilcruit’s former trainer Tony Mullins about the gelding and his chance in the race.

Who wins the Champion Bumper?

“It’s a difficult question but I fancy KILCRUIT. I find it hard to see past him and I have done for a long time. From the first day we walked him we knew he was special.”

 

The market suggests that there are quite a few with a chance in the race. Who do you think could be the biggest threat to Kilcruit?

“EILEENDOVER was very impressive and has a massive pedigree, she backed that up in her two runs. But she might go to Aintree.

“There are other horses in there, but when you go past the top three in the betting (Kilcruit, Sir Gerhard and Eileendover) you’re getting into a minefield of 15 to 20 very good horses. Then it depends on if any of them have come forward. But on what they’ve shown so far, they will finish behind the top three.”

It was a matter of minutes after his win at the Dublin Festival that Kilcruit was made Champion Bumper favourite. Were you expecting him to win in that manner?

“I was certainly expecting him to win but it is only every decade or so that you see a horse win like that.”

 

Do you think the uphill finish at Cheltenham will pose him any difficulties?

“No, it won’t be an issue. He’s come up the hill at Navan, he’s come up the hill in very testing ground at Leopardstown. There’s no question that he can climb a hill. There are very few questions over him at all really, he’s a very classy horse.”

 

Are there any horses in the race that you fancy at a bigger price that could be a good each-way bet?

“There are a lot of other good horses in the field. Things can change very quickly in a Champion Bumper, it isn’t like the other established races. These are young babies coming through and it is a matter of who has matured enough to take the rigours of getting ready for a Champion Bumper.

“It is a long, long time from now until the Champion Bumper. So much can happen to those babies before then. I would class him (Kilcruit) now as becoming battle-hardened whereas the others, I don’t see any of them coming up to his standard.”

Given what you’ve said so far, there must be very high expectations for Kilcruit?

“I would imagine in the long-term view a little bit of better ground on two-and-a-half plus would be his distance. He’s a very classy horse, he’s done everything he’s been asked to do so far. He was a very big horse last March when I trained him, he was over 16.3h, so he has matured well in the year.”

Kilcruit is best priced at 13/8 with Bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill and Betfair

Sir Gerhard is best priced at 3/1 with Bet365 and Sky Bet

Eileendover is best priced at 10/1 

Kilcruit is best priced at 14/1 with William Hill for the Ballymore Novices Hurdle

by Charlie Parker-Turner