There were smiles all round at Henry De Bromhead’s Knockeen yard on Monday morning as the press gathered to photograph the Waterford trainer’s champions and reflect on another brilliant week at Cheltenham. It was a very relaxed De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore who paraded Honeysuckle, Bob Olinger and A Plus Tard as the cameras clicked and the microphones whirred.
De Bromhead admitted to a range of emotions as Honeysuckle powered up the hill on Tuesday last to win the Champion Hurdle for the second year running, predominantly delight and relief.
Gold Cup winners Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore at Knockeen on Monday morning. Photos: Noel Browne
It wasn’t all plain sailing for De Bromhead’s team though at Presbury Park with the well-fancied Letmetelyousomethinggirl’s fall and the below par performace of Bob Olinger in the Turner’s Novices Chase the low points in an otherwise very good week.
By the time the Gold Cup rolled round on Friday, all eyes were on the Waterford trainer to see if he could repeat last year’s 1-2 finish. And what a finish his horses produced, reversing last year’s result but giving De Bromhead another 1-2 in the Blue Riband of National Hunt racing with a first Gold Cup going to Rachael Blackmore, the jockey who is very much part of the success story at Knockeen.
Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard leads the way with Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead at Knockeen on Monday.
De Bromhead becomes the first trainer to win both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup since the great Vincent O’Brien managed it in 1949-50 with Hatton’s Grace and Cottage Rake.
There’s no rest for the team at Knockeen any time soon with Minella Times heading back to Aintree and the Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals on the horizon.
De Bromhead did confirm that Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard is most likely finished for the season.
Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle with Rachael Blackmore, Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard with Henry de Bromhead at Knockeen on Monday morning.