Henry de Bromhead sees Cheltenham’s poignant success after a grisly tragedy
Saturday 3 September 2022 was the day that the cruelest of tragedies struck the De Bromhead family.
At just 13 years old, Jack de Bromhead was already known to many racing fans as the charismatic son of head coach Henry. He was also a promising pony rider.
But that afternoon while attending the famous Glenbeigh Festival on the beach at Rossbeigh, Co. Kerry, the boy was killed in a freak fall. Hundreds attended the funeral in Waterford, where Henry carried his son’s coffin.
So to say the National Hunt season started under a cloud would be an extreme understatement. Training winners can’t have been close to the fore for De Bromhead, although he saddled two of them when he returned to a Thurles racecourse for the first time a month and a half later, thanking friends and rivals for their support.
De Bromhead has always been a very popular figure in the sport. The Irishman had a season of all seasons in 2021 as he enjoyed a sensational Cheltenham Festival and coached six winners including an unprecedented holy trinity of heroes from the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup.
His partnership with Rachael Blackmore helped the rider become the first woman to become top jockey at the meet, and the following month the pair reconnected with Minella Times for Grand National success.
This horse retired after a setback while being prepared for a tilt at Aintree last month and preparations for Cheltenham have not been smooth either.
A Plus Tard, whose Gold Cup win last year was one of the most impressive in recent memory, has been pulled up in his only start since. Bob Olinger, a two-time festival winner, has no entry this time after a string of poor runs. Envoi Allen, who competes in tomorrow’s Ryanair Chase, won Grade 1 in preseason but then flopped in the King George.
Wondermare Honeysuckle lost her career unbeaten record at Fairyhouse in November and finished second in a farewell run at Leopardstown in February.
Instead, connections have changed plans and yesterday’s sensational Mares’ hurdle win made for one of the most emotional festival moments in recent memory. And there could be another.
Tomorrow’s Jack de Bromhead Mares Novices’ Hurdle has been renamed in a fine touch by Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss who sponsors the race and has numerous horses in training with De Bromhead.
In Magical Zoe, De Bromhead may have just the thing for the most poignant achievement.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/henry-de-bromhead-jack-cheltenham-festival-2023-mares-novices-hurdle-b1067404.html Henry de Bromhead sees Cheltenham’s poignant success after a grisly tragedy