Cheltenham Festival: Wonderwall tuned up for Champion Bumper bid

Thu 4 Mar 2021

Richard Spencer is confident his Weatherbys Champion Bumper contender Wonderwall is capable of running a big race at the Cheltenham Festival.

A general 25-1 shot for the Grade One contest, the Newmarket trainer has high hopes that the imposing five-year-old can mix it with those at the head of the market.

“Wonderwall is a really nice horse and a bit of a freak really," he told Sky Sports Racing. "He shouldn’t really be doing what he’s doing, the size of him.

“His work was very good as a four-year-old and we gave him a bit of time to start off just before Christmas. He won very well after doing a really nice bit of work at Nottingham before going to Ascot for that debut.”

Richard Spencer hopes Wonderwall can shake up the likes of Kilcruit - so impressive here at the Dublin Racing Festival - in the Chamnpion Bumper at Cheltenham

Wonderwall returned to the same track in December and, although he again ran well to be third at Listed level, Spencer believes he is capable of better.

“He probably wasn’t 100 per cent where I’d have wanted him to be, looking back,” he added.

“But the last 10 days he’s really come to life. I think we’ll see a different horse again, and I hope on better ground he’ll run a big race.”

Wonderwall will arrive at the Festival after a three-month break, which Spencer hopes will also help.

“We thought of maybe going to Newbury for the Listed race," he added, "but it was going to be too close running in February and then trying to go to Cheltenham, so we’ve kept him a fresh horse.

“He worked yesterday (Wednesday) at home on the grass at Newmarket and he worked very well. I’m really looking forward to going to Cheltenham.”

Spencer will keep sights lower with another winning bumper debutant, Peejaybee – while he reports that stable star Tyson Fury has improved again through the winter and will begin his four-year-old Flat campaign at Newbury in the middle of next month.

The giant Tyson Fury won two of his three career starts last year, doubling his tally at Ascot in October – having run with credit in the St Leger in between.

Reflecting on his Ascot win, Spencer said: “It just shows what class of horse he is.

“It was only his third start, and we did throw him in the deep end a bit – but he didn’t disgrace himself in the Leger.

“At Ascot, the ground was probably soft enough and he did have to carry a penalty. It’s hard to win under a penalty. ~

"But he’s definitely improved over the winter, and I’m looking forward to starting him off this year at Newbury.”

Tyson Fury has won twice over a mile and a half, but Spencer believes the son of Iffraaj could perhaps have the speed to be effective over shorter too.

“He’s in really good form, cantering away and has done very well over the winter,” he said.

“He’s weighing in at about 580 kilos. But all being well, he’s going to go to Newbury at the first meeting – that will be our starting point.

“We’ll see how he starts off there. I think he’s got enough speed to come back to 10 furlongs, but I don’t think we want to be doing that at the moment.

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