Henry De Bromhead is in the midst of another successful campaign, currently lying fourth in the Irish Trainers Championship.
It’s little more than a year since the Potts family moved their horses from the County Waterford stable, yet a potentially devastating blow sparked something of a revival in the yard’s fortunes. The arrival of several Gigginstown-owned horses certainly softened the blow, and last season proved to be one of the best, with five victories at Grade One level, including a thrilling success in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham for Special Tiara.
That two-mile division over fences has proved a rich vein of success over the years, typified by stable star Sizing Europe. Described by the trainer as a horse of a lifetime, the stunning chaser won six Grade One’s over fences, including an Arkle and a Champion Chase at Prestbury Park.
The stable possibly lacks that equine star at present, though there’s several young chasers that have the potential of stepping into those sizeable horseshoes.
Petit Mouchoir put in a stunning display to win his chasing debut at Punchestown. Already a Grade One winner over hurdles, the seven-year-old was third in last year’s Champion Hurdle. Sadly, he’s been off the track since Punchestown, but looks likely to return at Leopardstown in a couple of weeks. There’s the likelihood of a tasty clash with Footpad, though I’m sure De Bromhead would settle for a safe round of jumping, with the prospect of sharpening up his youngster for a serious crack at the Arkle Chase in March. I’m a huge fan of this exuberant front-runner, and fancy he’ll replicate Sizing Europe, assuming he returns to the Cotswolds in peak physical shape.
De Bromhead has the current Champion Chase winner in the yard, though Special Tiara will face a much tougher task should Altior line-up against him. He defeated Fox Norton in a thrilling victory back in March, and though now an 11-year-old, is said by his trainer to be ‘as good as ever’. He needs a sound surface to be at his best, and should the return of Altior fail to materialize, he’d be a decent each-way proposition at around 20/1.
Balko Des Flos and Monalee are another pair that give De Bromhead hope of further festival glory. The former ran a cracker last time, when runner-up in the Christmas Chase (formerly Lexus) at Leopardstown. He’s another from the yard that needs better ground to shine, and is likely to get that at Cheltenham in March. He’s as short as 10s for the Ryanair and more than twice those odds for the Gold Cup. He’d be a serious player for the shorter trip on decent ground.
Though a faller last time, Monalee remains favourite for the RSA in March. The seven-year-old was runner-up in last year’s Albert Bartlett, but must now prove that the fall at Leopardstown has not left its mark. He looks set to run there again in February before the trip to Prestbury Park. He appears to be Ireland’s leading three-mile novice chaser.
De Bromhead would also have been thrilled with the return to action of Valseur Lido. It’s worth remembering that this talented chaser is still only nine, and should he return to his best he’s more than capable of a huge performance at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s nearing a couple of years since he finished runner-up to Vautour in the Ryanair Chase, and that sort of display would see him competitive at the highest level. He’s as big as 50s for the Gold Cup, a race that previous trainer Willie Mullins, felt he was tailor-made for.
Another from the yard that may prove interesting if sent to Cheltenham, is Ordinary World. Third in last year’s Arkle, this eight-year-old son of Milan is shy of top-class, but his handicap mark may well make him an interesting contender for the Grand Annual, should connections go that route. He’s ultra-consistent over fences, and must have decent ground to produce his best.
Of his younger crop, De Bromhead’s Paloma Blue could prove a surprise package when stepped-up in trip. He’ll be a better horse when sent over fences, but was an impressive winner at Leopardstown over Christmas at the minimum trip over hurdles. He’s bred to stay further and whether he proves good enough for the Ballymore in March remains to be seen. Nevertheless, he is one for the notebook, and a track like Cheltenham, with the stiff uphill finish may well prove ideal for this powerful looking youngster.
De Bromhead’s record at Cheltenham in both the Champion Chase and the Arkle is eye-catching. His team are firing on all cylinders, and he’s very much a trainer to have at the forefront of your mind when The Festival arrives.