What Is A Bumper Horse Race?


What is a bumper horse race is a question we often get asked, and the answer is…

The Quick Answer

What Is A Bumper Horse Race?

Bumpers are flat races for horses that are primarily seen as future National Hunt horses. They’re are a way of giving these types of horses some racing experience before they are sent hurdling or chasing, and are traditionally run over distances ranging from one mile five furlongs to two miles four furlongs.

Why Do Horses Run In Bumper Horse Races?

Horses normally race in bumpers to gain experience of horse racing before they go hurdling or chasing. At this stage of their career, they are mainly considered to be too slow to win a flat race under flat racing rules, while also being too inexperienced or weak to be sent straight over obstacles. Bumper races also allow horses to get used to racing at speeds they won’t have been asked to run at in their stable work.

Why Don’t Flat Horses Run In Bumper Horse Races?

Horses that have previously raced on the flat under flat racing rules aren’t allowed to run in bumper horse races. In truth, most trainers that train horses on the flat wouldn’t run their horses in bumpers, as the prize money available for winning most bumpers is much lower than for winning most flat races. Bumper horse races tend to just be a training ground for future jumpers.

However, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for horses in bumpers that are flat-bred horses, as these types of horses have been known to land a gamble or two. These may be horses that were due to run on the flat but have been injured or are slow-maturing types. Some trainers will see landing a gamble in a bumper with this sort of horse as a way to recoup the expense of keeping the horse in training.

While horses that have raced on the flat can’t run in bumpers, horses that have won bumpers can then race on the flat. Several high-profile bumper horses have taken this route rather than having a career over hurdles or fences. Some bumper winners have even gone on to be successes in both racing codes.

How Much Money Do Horses Win For Winning Bumper Races?

Winners of regular bumpers only pick up around £2,000, but the best bumper horses will get the chance to race for decent money in championship bumper races at the big spring festivals. For example, Ferny Hollow picked up £42,202 for winning the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Other big spring festivals such as Aintree and Punchestown also have championship bumpers that are worth a lot of money to the winners.

High-Profile Bumper Winners

Not all top-class bumper winners go on to be as good over hurdles and fences, but some winners of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper have gone on to be huge stars over jumps.

The 1997 Champion Bumper winner Florida Pearl was the first winner of the race to become a superstar. He was sent straight over fences and proved a hit with victories in the RSA Chase and the King George Chase. But he was best known for winning four Irish Gold Cups for trainer Willie Mullins.

The next high-profile winner of the Champion Bumper was Cue Card in 2010. Colin Tizzard’s 4-year-old was a shock winner at 40/1 but proved that success was no fluke by going on to win nine grade-1 races. Those wins included a Betfair Chase, a King George, and victory in the Ryanair chase back at the Cheltenham Festival.

2012 winner Champagne Fever returned to the Cheltenham Festival the following year to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, before just failing to make it a hat-trick of Cheltenham wins in the Arkle Chase a year later.

The latest star to emerge after winning the Championship Bumpers is the 2019 winner Envoi Allen. He has also won the 2020 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and looks destined for even greater success in the future.

However, lots of the best bumper horses prove to be disappointing when sent over jumps.

Should I Bet In Bumper Horse Races?

While many top jumpers start their careers in bumper horse races, most horse racing tipsters avoid giving tips in a high percentage of bumpers. This is especially true of early-season bumpers, which are often contested by horses with no previous racecourse experience.

If you want to bet in bumpers, studying the breeding of the horses will highlight which progeny of which sires and mares tend to do well in these sorts of races. But it can often pay to follow the money, as this normally means a horse is fancied by connections. Unfortunately, this also means that you tend to miss the biggest prices, so the value has often gone.

Mid-season bumpers aren’t much easier, as the runners are a combination of first timers and horses that have already either won a bumper or run in one or more. Bumper winners must carry a penalty in these types of races, making their task of winning much harder if there are any good horses that are unpenalised lurking in wait.

Most horses that run in bumpers at big festivals tend to have already won one, but some horses can qualify if they’ve been placed behind a highly rated winner. But judging collateral form is still difficult, especially as championship races tend to be run at a much faster pace than typical bumpers.

That’s why picking bumper winners can be more difficult than picking winners in other types of races.

Do Tipsters Provide Tips For Bumper Horse Races?

Most horse racing tipsters will give most bumper races a wide berth. But they may sometimes get a tip from one of their contacts or provide a tip for a bumper based on a strong form-line that they like. But we can’t recall a tipster that specializes in tips for bumpers. Tips for bumper horse races are generally just part of a tipster service that provides tips for a variety of different types of horse racing.

Betting Gods is a tipster platform that offers tips from some of the best tipsters in the world. All our tipsters offer affordable monthly subscriptions that give you access to all their horse racing tips, including any they have for bumpers.

Each of our tipsters also has a profile on the Betting Gods website, where you can see important statistics such as average monthly profit, winning percentage, and return on investment.