To win one feature race during Cheltenham Festival week
is special – to complete a hat-trick is staggering, writes Paul Martin.
Yet that’s exactly what Henry de Bromhead managed over the course of four memorable days in March, with the County Waterford trainer responsible for six winners in all.
Chief among them were his ‘Holy Trinity’ of the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Gold Cup as de Bromhead became the first man to land all three in the same week.
With today marking six months until the 2022 Festival, here’s a look back at how de Bromhead made history…
Champion Hurdle – Honeysuckle
Much was expected from the unbeatable all-female pairing of Honeysuckle and Rachael Blackmore, who were back at the Greatest Show on Turf having bagged the Mares’ Hurdle in 2020.
Backed in to almost evens prior to the off, Blackmore – beginning a memorable week of her own which would end with the leading jockey crown – gave the Sulamani mare the perfect ride and kicked on at just the right time to make it win number 11 in succession
for the duo.
It was de Bromhead’s first victory in the Champion Hurdle and he was understandably thrilled.
“It’s the stuff you dream of,” he said. “I never thought this would happen, it’s amazing.
“Rachael was amazing, I thought she was so cool throughout the race.”
Put the Kettle On – Queen Mother Champion Chase
Also looking for a second successive Festival winner was Put the Kettle On, who had claimed Arkle glory 12 months previously.
And the ‘mad’ mare delivered once again on Cheltenham soil, making the pace before holding off the lurking Chacun Pour Soi to follow in the footsteps of Sizing Europe and Special Tiara as de Bromhead’s Champion Chase winners.
“She’s so tough and Aidan was so brilliant on her,” said an elated de Bromhead.
“She’s a bit crackers the whole time, to be honest, she’s just quite wild, but a real character. She’s nuts, but in a great way.”
Minella Indo - Gold Cup
Talk about the icing on the cake. An unforgettable week was given a fitting send-off on Gold Cup day as de Bromhead claimed a one-two in the day’s big one.
It was 9-1 shot Minella Indo who triumphed, with Jack Kennedy holding off the week’s leading jockey Blackmore, who was looking to become the first female Gold Cup winner on A Plus Tard.
Kennedy battled to the front two fences out and had enough left in the tank to pick up the pace under pressure from A Plus Tard, with two-time winner Al Boum Photo denied a hat-trick and forced to settle for third.
De Bromhead was not to be denied a treble of his own, with Minella Indo completing a unique Holy Trinity following the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase – an achievement which proved difficult to take in.
“It’s unbelievable, I’m delighted for everybody, all connections - the Moloney’s, Barry and Mike,” De Bromhead said.
“He’s just an incredible horse and he comes alive here. He’s like a different horse, a little bit like Put The Kettle On.
“I think I’m still in my hotel, it’s Monday evening and I’m about to wake up in a few minutes and nothing has even started yet, that’s where I’m at the moment.”
The Gold Cup triumph also completed an incredible week for one punter from Shannon, Co Clare, who placed faith in de Bromhead with the above treble along with 20-1 shot Bob Olinger in the Ballymore, with his €20 four-fold returning a cool €578,340.