A Plus Tard is on course to be Henry de Bromhead’s first Haydock runner in the Betfair Chase later this month.
The trainer is targeting the extended three-mile-one-furlong contest as a starting point for his Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, who made a seamless transition to top-class staying races last term.
A Grade One winner over two miles and a furlong back in 2019, A Plus Tard moved back up to three miles at Christmas and duly won the Savills Chase – before then chasing home stablemate Minella Indo at Cheltenham.
De Bromhead said: “A Plus Tard is in mighty form – he worked really well the other day, and we’re aiming for the Betfair Chase.
“I ran him in the Fortria over two miles for his first run (last year), and he got beaten, but he sort of fooled me completely as he beat Chacun Pour Soi the previous year over two miles.
“Looking at the re-run of the Ryanair, it just looked like he was staying on at the end, so we all agreed to give him a go over three miles – and he was brilliant in the Savills Chase.
“There was no question about his stamina at Cheltenham. He’s an amazing horse to win a Grade One over two miles and a Grade one over three miles – there’s not many that do it. He’s brilliant and he’s still only seven, so he’s improving all the time.”
De Bromhead has never had a competitive runner at Haydock, but became acquainted with the track when the Irish-trained contenders for last season’s Grand National meeting were billeted there because of Covid restrictions.
He added: “We were there for Aintree in our bubble, and I was amazed how tight it was. I hadn’t pictured that at all, but it looks a lovely track.
“If everything goes well, I would imagine we’ll start in the Betfair, aim for the Savills – and then he went straight for the Gold Cup last year, so probably something similar.”
While A Plus Tard is set to stay in Ireland over Christmas, De Bromhead has two options for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton – in Minella Indo and second-season star Envoi Allen.
Both reappeared at Down Royal last Saturday when Minella Indo had to settle for third behind Frodon in the Champion Chase, while Envoi Allen won a Grade Two contest to put behind him a nightmare spring which saw him lose his unbeaten record when falling at the Cheltenham Festival before being pulled up at Punchestown.
De Bromhead is keen to send Minella Indo for the King George, but may swerve the contest with Envoi Allen.
He said: “I’d say Indo is highly likely. Envoi Allen, I’m not sure. He’s a second-season novice, we’ll see. It was great to get that run the other day, he looked brilliant again – he could, but we haven’t made any plans with him.
“I know Indo is maybe not your typical King George horse, but we’ll certainly weigh it up nearer the time.
“It could be the King George or the Savills – we’ll see how that goes. He’ll come on plenty for Down Royal – he was a little bit shorter than I thought he was, and he caught me out a little bit, but he still ran a cracker.”
Envoi Allen, a Grade One winner in bumper company as well as over hurdles and at novice chase level, was trying three miles for the first time when sustaining an injury at Punchestown – and De Bromhead has certainly not ruled out another try at the distance.
He said: “He seemed to love jumping and galloping at that pace last week, so I think that’s interesting with him. Obviously we want to look at three miles some time – but he’s got solid form, a very high cruising speed, he jumps quick, (so) he’s probably got a lot of attributes for two to two and a half miles.
“I haven’t discussed it with connections, so I’m not sure which way we’ll go as yet, but he’s very versatile. He’s not run (completed the course) over three miles, so you don’t know if he’ll stay, but it’s something you want to find out some time soon.”
De Bromhead not only has a plethora of talented chasers, he also houses the reigning champion hurdler Honeysuckle – who boasts a perfect record of 12 wins in as many starts.
The seven-year-old obliterated her Cheltenham rivals by six and a half lengths in the spring and will kick off her campaign in the Baroneracing.com Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, where she will be bidding to emulate the late Solerina and Apple’s Jade in winning the race for a third successive year.
“She’s great, she’s a superstar and she’s doing really well,” he said.
“She loves working up the hill here, but she loves her days away as well.
“She’ll have a few of those before the Hatton’s Grace, which is where we’ll start out again with her. It’s a tried-and-tested route – and of course, it’s all about Cheltenham in March.
“She’s a fantastic mare.”
Put The Kettle On is another distaff star for De Bromhead, having completed a massive Festival hat-trick for the trainer last season by winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The seven-year-old is unbeaten in four starts at Cheltenham. After skipping a run in last month’s PWC Champion Chase because of unsuitable ground at Gowran, Put The Kettle On will return to her spiritual home next week to make her seasonal bow.
De Bromhead said: “She’s going for the Shloer Chase. She seems in great form – she worked really well on Wednesday. Sadly we couldn’t run in the PWC at Gowran, so we go for the Shloer now, and we’re really happy with her.
“Obviously she loves Cheltenham. Whatever it is – the tightness, the undulations – she just loves it around there. Aidan (Coleman) gets a fantastic tune out of her.”