Henry De Bromhead Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2021

Henry De Bromhead

Henry De Bromhead Stable Tour: Cheltenham Festival 2021

In the last decade, Henry De Bromhead has established himself as one of the best National Hunt trainers across Ireland and the UK, and will travel to this year’s Cheltenham Festival with a team of strong contenders across the four days.

In recent years, he’s won the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Sizing Europe and Special Tiara, the Ryanair Chase with Balko Des Flos and even added a second Arkle in 2020 with Put The Kettle On.

However, he arguably travels to Cheltenham with his best team yet, with the likes of Minella Indo and A Plus Tard well fancied for the Gold Cup, and Honeysuckle edging favouritsm for the Champion Hurdle.

With so many top names at his disposal, we’ve taken a look at his stable stars and picked out the likely races they’ll head for when it comes to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

A Plus Tard

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 3213-21

Verdict: A picture of consistency, A Plus Tard was an impressive winner of the Close Brothers back in 2019, and was equally as good in Graded company last season by finishing a close third to Min in the Ryanair. However, he stepped up to three miles in impressive fashion to win the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, beating Kemboy who has gone on to win the Irish Gold Cup since then. That looks like strong form, and if he can handle the 3m2½f at Cheltenham, then he’s a strong contender for the Gold Cup.

Aspire Tower

5-y-o bay gelding

Form: 11F2-12

Verdict: Switched from the flat before the start of the 2019/20 jumps season, Aspire Tower showed a real appetite for the jumping game, finishing the season with a runner-up effort in the Triumph Hurdle. This season, he was pitched straight in at the top level, winning the Grade Two WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, before a close second to Sharjah in the Grade One Matheson Hurdle at Christmas. His form means he is deserving of a place in the Champion Hurdle, of which he’d be a lively each-way player.

Atlantic Fairy

7-y-o bay mare

Form: 2/3-21

Verdict: Lightly raced for a 7yo, this mare broke her maiden tag in December by winning over 2m4f at Limerick, a trip that seemed to play to her strengths as a former point-to-point runner-up. She certainly looks like she would appreciate a step up to three miles in the Albert Bartlett, despite also holding an entry in the Ballymore.

Balko Des Flos

10-y-o chestnut gelding

Form: 44-4764

Verdict: Since being a surprise winner of the Ryanair Chase in 2018, Balko Des Flos has never really replicated the form and still searches for first win since that day. This season, he’s not got much closer, finishing 6th in the Savills Chase and 4th most recently in a Grade Two, won by Allaho, at Thurles. It’s difficult to see him winning at Cheltenham, where he has an entry in the Ryanair.

Baptism of Fire

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 55-13PO

Verdict: Started this season with a win a Punchestown in October, and then showed a decent piece of form when third to Fury Road in the G2 Celebration Hurdle at the same course in November. However, he’s disappointed in two Graded contests since then, and he might be more suited to a handicap than something like the Albert Bartlett.

Bob Olinger

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 1/211

Verdict: A point-to-winner, this 6yo has quickly progressed under rules, and landed a Grade One over hurdles at Naas in January. He justified strong support that day to score by 6½ lengths, a result which saw him quickly installed towards the head of the ante-post market for the Ballymore.

Captain Guinness

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 2B-P12F

Verdict: An unlucky loser when brought down when in contention two from home in the Supreme last season, and connections will be hoping to go better this year, despite falling in the Irish Arkle last time. Prior to that, he was an eight length second to Energumene at Naas, but even with that, he’s surely no more than an each-way player if he does make the Arkle at Cheltenham.

Eklat de Rire

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 121-11

Verdict: A clearly promising sort, the hat-trick bid was landed in a Grade Three at Naas, proving his ability to handle the heavy ground and the staying test of 3m1f. All of his appearances so far have come on soft/heavy or worse, so if he could find some cut in the ground at Cheltenham then he’d be worth another look in the National Hunt Chase or even the Festival Novices Chase.

Eleazar Des Neiges

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 2-U4250

Verdict: Another that could be bound for the National Hunt Chase, this 7yo hasn’t won since December 2019, but enjoys a slog in the mud, with his best effort this season coming when being narrowly denied by Forza Milan in a Beginners Chase on heavy going at Fairyhouse. If the NH Chase were beyond him, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him turn up in the Brown Advisory, Ultima or even the Kim Muir.

Epson Du Houx

7-y-o brown gelding

Form: 71-F110

Verdict: Although he holds an entry in the Arkle, this is a horse that looks bound for one of the handicaps after keeping his mark at a workable level when coming 10th of 2020 in a strong handicap at Leopardstown in February. The Grand Annual looks the most likely or even the Close Brothers, and if there were a good bit of cut in the ground, he’d have a decent chance.

Holymacapony

5-y-o bay gelding

Form: 1-1P8

Verdict: Nicely got off the mark when winning at Punchestown in November, but was pulled up at Navan in December, when well supported, and has disappointed since then when 8th behind Gaillard Du Mesnil at the Dublin Racing Festival. He’d have some work to do on that showing, which makes him a huge outsider for the Ballymore or even the Albert Bartlett.

Honeysuckle

7-y-o bay mare

Form: 1111-11

Verdict: Quite simply a mare in a million, and the one to beat in this year’s Champion Hurdle. She remains unbeaten in 10 races, including two this season and arguably put up a career best when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle for a second time at the DRF in February. With a sex allowance to boot, there’s only really Epatante that you can see challenging her up the Cheltenham hurdle.

Irascible

6-y-o grey gelding

Form: 5/125

Verdict: A maiden winner at Clonmel in October, this 6yo has been far from disgraced in two Grade One’s since then, twice finishing nine lengths behind Appreciate It. That allows him to take his chance in the Supreme at the Festival, where he might be better than his ante-post odds of 40/1 suggest.

Minella Escape

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 41-F21

Verdict: A winner of a point-to-point, this 6yo got off the mark under rules at the third time of asking when winning easily over 2m5f at Tramore on New Year’s Day. His staying ability was clear to see that day, but it would be nice to see him given an outing over three miles before you can make any conclusions about his chance in the Albert Bartlett, where he does hold an entry.

Minella Indo

8-y-o bay gelding

Form: 12-11F4

Verdict: Narrowly denied by Champ in the RSA Chase last season, but made the perfect start this term by winning a G3 at Wexford and then a G2 at Naas. However, he fell in the Savills Chase over Christmas and then didn’t get home when fading into 4th when sent off favourite for the Irish Gold Cup. That has seen his price drift for the Gold Cup, but he’s still hard to rule out given his excellent record at the Festival.

Minella Melody

7-y-o bay mare

Form: 110-222

Verdict: Failed to cap off a brilliant 2019/20 season when only coming 18th in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle won by Concertista, and is yet to return to winning ways this season. She’s hit the crossbar on all three starts this term, including when well beaten into second by Concertista at Leopardstown over Christmas. That makes her worthy of her entry in the Mares Hurdle, but it’s hard to see her winning it.

Notebook

8-y-o bay gelding

Form: 116-123

Verdict: An excellent form marker, Notebook was sixth in the Arkle last season and hasn’t been outside the places this term. Most recently, he was third in the Grade One Dublin Chase at Leopardstown, and that allows him to have a crack at the Champion Chase, where he’d probably be an each-way player at best.

Put The Kettle On

7-y-o bay mare

Form: 1211-13

Verdict: Last year’s Arkle winner, she returned to the course again to score in the Shloer Chase in November. That extended her unbeaten record at Cheltenham to three races, which makes her a real danger in the Champion Chase, despite finishing third to Chacun Pour Soi and Notebook in the G1 Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Envoi Allen

7-y-o bay gelding

Form: 111-111

Verdict: The absolute superstar of the National Hunt game right now, he remains unbeaten after three races over fences. The latest of those came in heavy conditions at Punchestown in January, and after deciding to side step the Dublin Racing Festival, it’s now all systems go for the Marsh Chase, where he’ll certainly take some stopping considering he’s already won the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore.

Ballyadam

6-y-o bay gelding

Form: 31-1142

Verdict: The Elliott team have made no secret about how much they rate this horse, and although he’s picked up some nice victories in his short racing career, he’s still yet to fulfil that lofty reputation. He quickly rattled off a double on his first two starts over fences, but was then below par in his run at Christmas and reportedly had a dirty scope. He was then back to something close to his best when a 3¼ length second to Appreciate It last time, and although he looks like he might appreciate the Ballymore test, connections are targeting a crack at the Supreme.

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