Ruby Walsh
Ruby Walsh

Ruby Walsh Cheltenham tips: Weatherbys Champion Bumper preview

Ruby Walsh feels Chosen Witness represents the value among Willie Mullins' Weatherbys Champion Bumper team but he doesn't envy the trainer's son Patrick in deciding which one to ride.

The former jockey was talking on the latest edition of the Cheltenham Countdown show on the Paddy Power Racing YouTube Channel.

It's For Me was the latest Closutton youngster to throw his hat into the ring when winning at Navan on Saturday, a performance that came as no surprise to the former jockey and now a key part of the Mullins set-up.

CHELTENHAM COUNTDOWN Ep2 | '13/8 now but he may go off 8/15' | Champion Bumper | National Hunt Chase

"He was working that way at home, but I’m not sure how just strong a race it probably was. He was really, really impressive and Navan is always a good test of any young horse and he won as authoritatively as you would have hoped he could and it’s a good stepping stone. But it’s unlikely he will reappear at the Dublin Racing Festival – I’m not sure Willie would be keen to run him any later than that to step on to Cheltenham.

"Maybe he will, but I would have thought he’d be heading to Cheltenham on the back of one win which can be done. Alexander Banquet went there after winning in Gowran Park, Cue Card loads of horses so I wouldn’t see that as a negative, but it is a hard race to get a handle on. And even for me working in Willie’s looking at them and watching them, you look at novice hurdlers you have either Flat form or bumper form maybe to go on and you have an opinion or even French form and you have an opinion of a lot of horses before they start whereas in bumpers, you get to see them once and they’re way harder to weigh or gauge."

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Chapeau De Soleil is another prominent in the ante-post betting despite being beaten on his only start under Rules to date at Fairyhouse.

"You obviously would prefer had he gone and won, but look Better Days Ahead did beat him, beat him three and a quarter lengths. He did look awkward, but I do believe one Ferny Hollow looked quite similar in the same race and ended up winning at Cheltenham.

"What Chapeau De Soleil will be and I’m not comparing him to Ferny Hollow – if I take myself out of the Willie Mullins camp and you’re looking at him and thinking ‘I’ll oppose him’, if I was riding against him, I probably would. You never go to 100% at home, you don’t decide oh next Tuesday morning we’re going to have a race, all the bumper horses at the bottom of the gallop and we’re going to find out.

"You don’t and you can’t, obviously Willie has all-weather surfaces so are you going to get a true reflection of what they’re going to do on grass anyway, no. So what was It’s For Me doing, he was doing more than enough to suggest that he would win a bumper. How good he is – you never know, you can’t find out at home, you have to keep the dream alive and hope that they’ll surprise you at the track."

So what about Westport Cove, an impressive winner at Fairyhouse recently?

"Yes and did things wrong, was quite keen early on at Fairyhouse, actually was very green-looking early on, but did quicken up really well and won impressively. But I suppose and it’s a wrong comparison, but it’s like when you’re comparing two-year-olds going to Royal Ascot, that’s what you’re talking about with bumper horses.

"You just don’t know about them and I’d say if one really took your eye, you’re talking ‘wow maybe there’s a bit more under the lid there’ but look Westport Cove was impressive at Fairyhouse."

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So what's the bet at this stage?

"For value I’ll go with Chosen Witness. He’s just value – he’s double figure odds and I thought he won well at Limerick, Jody Townend rode him, he’s by Well Chosen, really should stay and I thought he showed a lot of gears on real testing ground.

"He always looked like the winner in Limerick to me so I think he’ll be better on a bit better ground and he’s just a good price. He’s Willie’s, he’s won a bumper, he’s qualified, there’s a fair chance he’ll go!"

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Willie Mullins To Have The 1-2-3 In The Champion Bumper Was 3/1 Now 7/2

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