Derek O’Connor has been one of the best amateur jockeys around for a while now. He has ridden plenty of winners at the Cheltenham Festival during his riding career. This means he’s a man to listen to and in a recent interview for the Racing Post, he provided his assessment of some of the Festival races. Interestingly, he put up a fascinating contender at a price for the Champion Bumper.
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Encanto Bruno is a potential runner in the Champion Bumper on the Wednesday and he has caught Derek O’Connor’s eye. Trained by John McConnell, the five-year-old gelding is unbeaten in three runs, winning his sole point and two bumpers under rules.
O’Connor has been very impressed with what he’s seen so far. He said: “Encanto Bruno at 20-1 for the Champion Bumper. That’s a big price considering he beat Strong Leader at Cheltenham in October and that one went on to win his next three and is set to run in the Supreme. John McConnell’s charge has been flawless so far and everything he’s done has been very professional. He’s a horse I like a lot.”
It’s hard to knock this assessment and the 20-1 has already gone since he made these comments. Now 16-1, his record speaks for itself. Won a bumper at Cork on rules debut and there have been a couple of subsequent winners to come out of the race. The form of his bumper win at Cheltenham is rock-solid as the second has since won three hurdle races and the fifth won a Listed bumper next time.
Derek O’Connor makes a very strong case for this horse and if he can improve a little bit, the Mullins battalions at the head of the market won’t have it all their own way.
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