Henry de Bromhead is undeterred by the prospect of taking on Altior with his Arkle winner Put The Kettle On in Kempton’s Desert Orchid Chase.
The mare returned with a gutsy win in the Shloer Chase back at Cheltenham in November, and is set for another trip across the Irish Sea from De Bromhead’s County Waterford base on December 27.
“I’d say we’re pretty much going there – the last time I spoke with the owners we pretty much confirmed it, and I don’t see any reason to change, but obviously we’d have preferred Altior to have run in the Tingle Creek,” said De Bromhead.
“Her novice campaign was brilliant. She came from the summer season, and plenty have done it, but you are always under the radar when you do that. We had Notebook in the race as well, and he had won two Grade Ones on his way to the Arkle, so everyone was focused on him.
“To be fair to the mare, she’d won over course and distance and she loves it there. She had a fantastic year – and to go back and put up such a tough performance in the Shloer, she’s brilliant, and we’re lucky to have her.
“She’s very tough – bar coming to the last I could never see her winning the Shloer, but it’s testament to how tough she is and a brilliant ride from Aidan (Coleman).
“He has a great partnership with her, so he’ll be riding her again.”
Put The Kettle On is yet another classy two-mile chaser off the De Bromhead conveyor belt which includes two champion chasers in Sizing Europe and Special Tiara, twice a winner of the Desert Orchid.
He added: “Special Tiara was brilliant. The one that stands out is when Barry Geraghty rode him (2014) – the jumps the pair of them put in together were phenomenal really.
“There were ooos and ahhs from the crowd – they were incredible. He was brilliant, he won a Champion Chase and was placed year after year.”
Closer to home, De Bromhead will also be overseeing a strong raiding party on Leopardstown’s big Christmas meeting. But stable star Honeysuckle will not be there, instead waiting for the Irish Champion Hurdle.
“Honeysuckle had the entry for Christmas, but it was only in case something silly happened in the Hatton’s Grace,” added De Bromhead.
“She’s definitely aiming towards the Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Festival.
“Notebook will run – all being well he’s in great form and we’ll have a go at him (Chacun Pour Soi) on the 27th at Leopardstown (Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase).
“I had to put his run at Cheltenham down to how hard a race he had in the Irish Arkle with Cash Back, because they both tailed off.
“He came back all guns blazing the other day at Naas. I know he can jump a little right, but I don’t think you can blame his run in the Arkle just on that.
“He has run twice there and was possibly out of his depth the first year over hurdles, so I don’t want to say he doesn’t suit Cheltenham – I just think it was the hard race in the Irish Arkle.
“He was a dual Grade One winner last year, so he’d be bang there with the other good two-milers I’ve trained. He’s got that crazy streak jumping that a lot seem to have, and it really suits him. He’s rated over 160 now, so he’s bang there with them.”
With Minella Indo a hot favourite for the Savills Chase over three miles, he is likely to be joined by stablemate A Plus Tard.
“It’s something I just need to confirm with his owners, but the last time we spoke we were thinking of stepping him up in trip,” De Bromhead said of the latter.
“We’ll be monitoring the ground as well – if it was very soft we might reconsider the two-mile race he won last year.
“At the moment, we’re learning towards the three-mile race.”