Dermot Weld says neither Vigil nor Silver Concorde certain starters for festival bumper

Legendary Curragh trainer reveals Vigil has had a few little problems since winning at Leopardstown

Bookmakers reckon Vigil is the biggest threat to Willie Mullins's hopes of a ninth Cheltenham Bumper success but the horse's trainer Dermot Weld has revealed Vigil has had some hold-ups since winning at Leopardstown earlier this month and is not a certain starter at the festival.

Vigil is as low as 7/1 second-favourite for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper after impressively winning the second of his two career starts and will be entered along with his stable companion Silver Concorde for the day two festival Grade One.

However, Weld stressed yesterday that neither is a certain starter at Cheltenham and decisions on their participation won’t be taken until next week.

“We will enter them both but no decision has been taken. We could run either, or both, or not have a runner at all. Vigil has had a few little problems since he won, a few training hold-ups, and we might keep him and go to Punchestown. But we will know more closer to the time,” the Curragh trainer said yesterday.


Silver Concorde was also a Leopardstown winner over Christmas and is as low as 10/1 for the Cheltenham race. Ground conditions at the festival will play a role in whether he travels or not.

'Decent going'
"Ground is important for Silver Concorde. He definitely wants decent going. It wasn't that bad at all at Leopardstown when he won," Weld said.

The legendary flat trainer has famously also tasted success at the Cheltenham festival but it is 24 years since Rare Holiday won the Triumph Hurdle. Since then Weld has come close to repeating that feat, including when the subsequent Ascot Gold Cup hero Rite Of Passage finished third to Dunguib in the 2009 Champion Bumper.

That was one of three occasions in which the champion flat jockey Pat Smullen has ridden in the Bumper at Cheltenham. He is on standby to again ride for Weld if he has a runner in the race.

Willie Mullins is pursuing a ninth bumper victory at the festival and again intends sending a powerful team to Cheltenham, headed by the ante-post favourite Black Hercules. He is likely to be backed-up by Shaneshill and Killultagh Vic among others, which include another Leopardstown winner Aminabad.

The latter is entered for another bumper at Leopardstown this Sunday, a fixture which is something of a last-chance-saloon for horses hoping to make it to Cheltenham.

The last two winners of the weekend contest, Shield and Jezki, both wound up subsequently running at the festival.

Ground conditions at Leopardstown are currently soft ahead of a meeting which sees the Philip Fenton-trained Dunguib among 20 entries left in the Ballsbridge Hurdle.

The Coral Cup and County Hurdle entry has been raised 9lb in the ratings for his Grade Two win at Navan earlier in the month but isn't the highest rated entry for Sunday's race as Willie Mullins has left in Thousand Stars.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column