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Harris could field two-pronged attack on Champion Bumper

Milton Harris is pondering a two-pronged attack on the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival with his pair of talented mares.

Mullenbeg is as short as 12-1 for the extended two-mile feature in which the Willie Mullins-trained Facile Vega is odds-on with most firms.

The five-year-old is unbeaten in two bumpers and scored a decisive success in a Listed mares’ event at Cheltenham last month.

Yet the Warminster handler could be dual-handed in the concluding race on March 16, as Rosy Redrum did enough in defeat at Newbury on Saturday to merit “serious consideration”.

Though beaten a length and a half by the Emma Lavelle-trained Top Dog in a deep-looking Listed event at the Berkshire track, Harris could pitch the four-year-old into the fray at Cheltenham.

He said: “I think she is better than Mullenbeg – well, I know she is. She is fine and has taken the race well.

“I don’t know how she didn’t win. I think through a little inexperience, they just got away from Mitch Bastyan a little bit, but she finished off really nicely.

“She gets all the allowances and I think the Cheltenham Bumper might not be as competitive. Will Willie run six this year, or will he run two?

“I’d get 17lb off Facile Vega if he ran. It is a lot of weight and she is a good filly. If she was on the Flat, she’d be Listed class.

“Anyway, we are pondering it, giving it serious consideration.

“There is a mares’ bumper at Sandown the week before Cheltenham, but the ground might not be ideal and Aintree is a long way off.

“So, we are pondering the Festival bumper for both of them and Mullenbeg may go to Sandown the Saturday before, but the ground will have a bearing.”

Meanwhile, Harris hopes Silver Shade can book his spot in the Triumph Hurdle with a better performance at Fontwell on Thursday.

The Chris Baldwin-owned Silver Shade scored on his hurdling debut at Kempton last month before his hurdling let him down when well beaten by Pied Piper at Cheltenham.

Silver Shade had the better-supported Nick Williams-trained Interne De Sivola behind that day and the pair lock horns again in the Virgin Bet Juvenile Hurdle.

“I like him. I don’t know why he ran like that last time – he is better than that,” said Harris.

“I don’t know what happened. Like you and I, he probably just had a bad day.”

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