Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore were coming back down to earth on Monday as they reflected on last week’s Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup victories at Cheltenham.
For De Bromhead it was the second year in succession he had won both feature races, as well as providing the Gold Cup runner-up in Minella Indo.
Crucially for Blackmore, however, she got the choice right in the big one as having finished second on A Plus Tard last year, she stayed loyal and reversed placings with Minella Indo this time around.
With Honeysuckle it was a case of business as usual in the Champion Hurdle as she maintained her unbeaten record with the minimum of fuss, while Bob Olinger added a third win for the team in the Turners Novices’ Chase.
“It’s been brilliant, it was a fantastic week for us and I’m delighted for everybody involved,” said De Bromhead.
“Most of the horses ran well. It’s always quite a turbulent week, quite up and down, but to come back with three winners is brilliant.
“For two of those to be the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup again is unreal.
“It always takes a few days to settle back into normality and get over Cheltenham, but we’ve settled back into routine again and most of them all seem good.”
Bob Olinger was a fortunate winner of the Turners as he was going to be well beaten by Galopin De Champ before he came down at the last.
“We just weren’t sure about Bob, whether he put in his usual performance. Rachael wasn’t happy with him so we’re going to get him checked out. He’s booked in for a few different tests,” said De Bromhead.
Honeysuckle may have a new rival at Punchestown if impressive Supreme winner Constitution Hill takes her on, but De Bromhead will not be losing any sleep.
He said: “It would be great for racing if the two meet. Obviously Constitution Hill looks a smart novice and he’s only just arrived on the scene, so we’ll see.
“We’ll be going for the Champion Hurdle but obviously he has the novice option, so it will be up to his connections as to whether they want to take her on.”
Just 11 months on from becoming the first female rider to win the Grand National, Blackmore added a second Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup to her incredible list of achievements.
“Winning the National and the Gold Cup, they are both extremely special so I’m very lucky to be able to say I’ve won both,” she said.
“It was incredibly special to have people back at Cheltenham, the crowds make places like that what they are. Even Thurles on Saturday, having people there made it special – people bring the atmosphere so it’s fantastic to have them back, along with the owners.
“It’s an incredible feeling walking back into the enclosure and there’s a sea of people in front of you.”
Having missed out on what could have been her best opportunity of winning the Gold Cup last year, Blackmore is well aware of how fortunate she is.
“I suppose there’s one Gold Cup every year, in your career you’ll only get so many chances at riding in it. I was riding the favourite and not everyone gets that opportunity. The year before I was in a similar position but picked the wrong one, so to achieve it was very special,” she said.
“Henry is an incredible trainer and both horses were in great shape both years. This time around I was lucky enough to be in front.
“Racing is such a revolving wheel, people always ask what’s next so you’re always looking forward but these are massive moments in my life. It will probably only sink in when I’ve finished but I can still feel the impact, it’s not passing me by.
“I’m in a privileged position at Henry’s yard. He has a lot of good horses and good owners which means I was riding a few favourites at Cheltenham, not every jockey gets that. I’m delighted to come home having had success. It’s great when you can deliver.
“A lot of it is about being in the right place at the right time in racing. When I started riding for Henry a few summers ago, his horses were on fire and I just happened to be the one riding them, then it snowballed from there.”
Blackmore’s association with De Bromhead came about when Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary suggested to the trainer he should consider using the jockey on the way to Aintree in a taxi. The rest is history.
“If he didn’t share that taxi with Eddie it could have been someone else that summer, that’s what racing is. You have to prove yourself but you have to have the breaks and opportunities in the first place,” said Blackmore.