From Florida Pearl to A Dream To Share, what story will be written next?

The Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the most prestigious National Hunt Flat Race in the calendar, has proven to be a successful stepping stone for many a future star over our previous 27 years of sponsorship; kicked off by Florida Pearl in 1997 no less. In 2024 there are a host of connections looking to write their own story and etch their name onto the illustrious roll of honour.

“We were over the moon because he seemed to lose a bit of momentum and he picked up so well. Had he not lost that momentum I think if he wouldn’t have won, he’d have gone very close."

There is nothing more satisfying for an owner-breeder than leading your horse back into the winners’ enclosure after a win on the track.  That could well be the case this year for Bective Stud in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper with The Yellow Clay – the first homebred for the powerful operation who races in the colours of Noel and Valerie Moran. A winner of his first two starts, The Yellow Clay is an exciting prospect for the expanding Bective Stud team.

“He’s our first homebred” said Michael Lynam, Manager for Bective Stud. “I bought the mare off the breeder carrying him while she also had a foal at foot.”

“He was very tricky to break and to deal with on the ground, but as soon as he started moving you would stand back and go ‘wow’ that’s a real athlete, he has a real good way of going.”

“Once he started working, he’s thrived off it – the more he works the better with him. He had a setback in training, and he’s had nine months off, so all things considered his last run was very promising.”

That last run came at Leopardstown in the Grade 2 Future Stars at the Dublin Racing Festival, a race which has been won by three subsequent of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper in A Dream To Share, Facile Vega and Envoi Allen. By top sire Yeats, he won a Listed race at Limerick of his second of two previous starts, before an injury set him back for nine months.

Gordon Elliott last won the Weatherby Champion Bumper with Envoi Allen in 2019

“We were over the moon because he seemed to lose a bit of momentum and he picked up so well. Had he not lost that momentum I think if he wouldn’t have won, he’d have gone very close.”

The team at Bective Stud is ever-growing, with a host of exciting mares either due foals or set to be covered. The Yellow Clay is the first of these foals to represent the team on the track, and the line is set to be continued into the future.

“We have three more foals out of the mare (Winning Indian) – a 2020 by Getaway, a 2022 by Crystal Ocean and a 2023 by Jukebox Jury. She had a stunning old-fashioned National Hunt pedigree, but unfortunately, we lost her to colic last year which is a shame. Thankfully the 2020 foal by Getaway is a filly so we can keep the line going, she’s very valuable to us and will go into training next autumn.

“We have seven mares on the farm at the moment - Hollymount has been covered by Blue Bresil, Queens Brook by Walk In The Park, plus we’ve got Apple’s Jade and Benie Des Dieux due in April, so they’re all exciting prospects.”


"We all need proper horses for the future and hopefully a couple of them are – I’m a big fan of his."

Ben Pauling has been enjoying a fine run of form of late and has a strong Cheltenham team prepped for the 2024 Festival. Alongside Tellherthename, Harpers Brook and Handstands is Sixmilebridge, a bumper prospect who falls into the category of ‘could be anything’.

“He’s a lovely, big, upstanding individual with plenty going for him” said Pauling.

“He’s always looked very good at home, he moves well and is a very sound horse. His home work is as good as anything and he duly obliged [at Sandown].

“He’s a very straightforward horse, does what he needs to do and is a proper horse for the future. He’s certainly not short of speed – when you get one that’s just a cut above the rest at this stage in their career they’re able to be effective over two miles.”

Owned by The Megsons, Pauling will be hoping Sixmilebridge can create more Festival memories for the team following previous Cheltenham success of Willoughby Court, Le Breuil and Global Citizen.

Connections celebrated Cheltenham Festival success in 2022 with Global Citizen

Bred by Barbara Hanna, Sixmilebridge is by the talented sire Affinisea, a son of Sea The Stars and a half-brother to Irish Derby winner and established National Hunt sire Soldier Of Fortune. His dam can be traced back to a fine Aga Khan-bred family, and despite being sold for just €2,000 as a foal he managed to make £100,000 at the Goffs UK Aintree sale after finishing second in an Irish Point-to-Point while under the handling of Rob James.

In a year where many have a chance, Sixmilebridge seems to rate as one of the leading contenders from the United Kingdom and is part of a strong team for the trainer.


"We’ve only scratched the surface with him, and fingers crossed he can go the next step in a Grade One."

Wednesday of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival could be a red-letter day for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

Not only do connections have El Fabiolo, who became the highest-rated horse to carry the ‘double green’, in the Champion Chase but also two live chances in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. Anthony Bromley, racing manager for connections, spoke positively about both of their chances in the race.

Superstar El Fabiolo will be looking to add a Queen Mother Champion Chase to his tally, after landing the Sporting Life Arkle last year.

Jasmin De Vaux has been impressive in both of his starts – a Point-to-Point for Stuart Crawford and then in the bumper at Naas. It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on upped in class, but he seems to be a horse that comes alive away from home, which is a great trait to have. We’ve only scratched the surface with him, and fingers crossed he can go the next step in a Grade One.

“Tirwanako (his sire) is a sire that is on everyone’s lips and there aren’t many about by him, but the ones I’ve noticed aren’t that bad!

Their other representative was brought privately after an impressive win in a Point-to-Point at Comea and is sired by another relatively unknown stallion in Elm Park, who recently relocated from France to Ireland to stand at Claremount Stud.

“C’est Ta Chance just got beaten on the nod and we were disappointed to get beaten on his bumper debut as he’d been going nicely at home. The horse who did beat us (William Munny) has since come out and won a winner’s race in good style and looks well above average.

“He goes there with strong form and isn’t one to be dismissed lightly. If he’d have won by a short head we’d have definitely run him so why should a couple of inches change our mind now?

“I was underbidder for him as a store to Pat Doyle and he ran in the first four-year-old Point-to-Point of the year last year and won really well. I bought Hunters Yarn and Readin’ Tommy Wrong from Pat Doyle the previous two years and I remember loving this horse as a store so followed his progress.

“They’re both athletic and elegant types rather than great big heavy chasing types and they’ve shown a bit of pace and precocity too. “