The main idea is for jump horses to gain racing experience on flat conditions of equal length, before beginning a career hurdling or chasing. Because of the lack of fences and hurdles, the horses sometimes run faster; however the low quality of many of these races, and that horses are only taking part to gain experience, often results in a slow pace. Bumpers are typically put at the end of a race meeting and such races are notorious for being difficult to predict the winner. The vast majority of National Hunt meetings in Ireland include a bumper. They are run much less frequently in Britain.
The term 'bumper' arose because in the past, only amateur riders were allowed to compete and had an ungainly bumping style in comparison to the professionals.
Bumpers are most commonly run over distances of 13 - 20 furlongs.