Aidan O’Brien could have his first Cheltenham Festival runner since the legendary Istabraq was pulled up in the 2002 Champion Hurdle after the Champion Trainer entered Shield in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
Aidan O’Brien’s Shield is 25/1 with Boylesports.com to win the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham
O’Brien ran Shield and Egyptian Warrior at Punchestown last week. The duo was his first jumps runners for more than eight years. The Champion Trainer has opted for Shield to take his chances, after he beat his stablemate by one place in fourth under jockey Kate Harrington.
He is not the only Flat trainer to target the bumper as Mark Johnston has Willpower entered and George Baker has his I’m Fraam Govan in the 51-strong entries.
Irish-trained horses have an exceptional record in the Two mile contest with winning 15 of the 20 running’s of the race. This year challenge looks as strong as ever with contenders such strong big money buy Golantilla, Clondaw Court, Moyle Park, Sizing Tennessee and Union Dues all set to line up for the Irish Challenge.
The English team is headed by a number of exciting debut winners including Jeremy Scott’s Empiracle, recent Wetherby victor Diamond King, and Milo Man, who scored by 25 lengths at Taunton.