Even in Henry de Bromhead’s wildest dreams, he couldn’t have anticipated landing six winners at the Cheltenham Festival last year. But across the four days, everything seemed to just fall into place for the Irish trainer, and while he missed out on the Leading Trainer accolade due to Willie Mullins having more placings overall, it was still a week to remember for De Bromhead.
The Festival started off on the right foot with victory for Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle, and that set the tone for a sensational four days. With Rachael Blackmore, who rides a number of horses for De Bromhead, in outstanding form, the pair became a devastating duo and were the story of Cheltenham last year.
Now, with the 2022 Cheltenham Festival fast approaching, many are wondering if De Bromhead will enjoy similar success this time around, or if the bubble will burst. The return of Gordon Elliott following his ban last year means there is already more competition to contend with, while Mullins and Nicky Henderson will also be out to strip a few titles from De Bromhead’s stable.
If there’s one horse worth banking on for the Irishman, it’s Honeysuckle. Once again, she is the overwhelming odds-on favourite to win the Champion Hurdle for a second year running, and it’ll take a mammoth effort from one of the chasing pack to dethrone her. Still unbeaten in 14 races over hurdles, it’s beginning to feel like Honeysuckle can do no wrong after her steely win in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
“We’re just lucky to have her,” De Bromhead said. “She seems good since the Irish Champion Hurdle and we’re obviously aiming to get her back to Cheltenham in one piece. She got the job done at Leopardstown, I’m not sure you can be uber-impressive every day you go out but I thought she still won well.”
If the talented mare does land another Cheltenham Champion Hurdle crown for De Bromhead, then it will be a perfect start to the four days once again, and could be the catalyst for another memorable week. Indeed, the 49-year-old may have his sights on going one better than last year and actually winning the top trainer award this year.
There are a number of horses he’ll be looking to try and land enough winners to earn the crown. One of them is Tellmesomethinggirl, another impressive mare who is fancied for the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, while Put The Kettle On will be hoping to back up his sensational Champion Chase win last year by landing the first prize once again.
Another interesting contender is Minella Indo, who won the Gold Cup last year in dramatic circumstances. Not many punters seem to fancy him to win the race in 2022, with another De Bromhead horse in the shape of A Plus Tard better favoured on the best horse racing betting site.
There will be plenty of opportunities for De Bromhead to earn victories over the course of the four days, but one wonders if he will enjoy the same kind of purple patch as last year. It may prove to be a flash in the pan, but the trainer will be doing everything he can to prove it wasn’t.