The Champion Flat Jockeys of the UK and Ireland, Richard Hughes and Joseph O’Brien are set to clash in the Champion Bumper at the Festival on Wednesday
Richard Hughes has been booked to ride Sgt Reckless in the championship race with Joseph O’Brien looking to ride for his father on recent winner Shield. Both champions have been busy plying their trade on the all weather over recent weeks with Hughes having ridden at Wolverhampton today and O’Brien at Dundalk over the Winter.
Connections of Sgt Reckless are bullish claiming that he a dead cert for Festival success, and given the style of his victories Crockford can understand why. This monster of a horse cruised past rivals winning by 8l at Wincanton and battled gamely to win by 1 1/2l on the all weather at Lingfield. With Richard Hughes up the Channon yard could not ask for a better pilot on their 9/1 chance.
Shield booked his place at the Festival after beating the highly regarded Dermot Weld horse Grecian Tiger last Sunday at Leopardstown. The two horses pulled clear of the third in impressive fashion earning the O’Brien trained horse a 16/1 quote for the Weatherby’s Champion Bumper. The father and son combination have pulled off many a big race success together, punters now ask will the last race on Wednesday be another. In what is always a very competitive affair Crockford believes that others should have the edge including Sgt Reckless with Hughes on board.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins is as ever well represented with a an excellent pair of chances in the form of Union Dues and Sizing Tennessee.
In addition to champions of the racing world a champion of another sport played on the turf will also be present. Sir Alex Ferguson has entered his aptly named I’m Fraam Govan who is trained by George Baker. The 33/1 outsider disappointed last time out when being an odds on loser on the all weather at Lingfield. However, Crockford thinks that race did not represent his true form and that the Manchester United supremo still has a shot with this one.
So all in all it truly is a Champion Bumper this year. One which if you listen to the whispers will be won by a Mr Hughes
(Featured Photograph – Richard Hughes at Goodwood by Stuart Rice)
(Photograph – Joseph O’Brien and Excelebration in the Winners Enclosure on QIPCO Champions Day by Stuart Rice)