HENRY de Bromhead’s Cheltenham stars were feted on home soil at their Co Waterford yard in Knockeen on Monday at a press call organised by HRI to celebrate A Plus Tard, Honeysuckle and Bob Olinger’s remarkable successes at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Indo, last year’s hero, wasn’t forgotten either in leading home a memorable one-two for Henry in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup and joined them in the paddock photo shoot, with Sox, a curious brown terrier with a curly tail bringing up the rear.
Rachael Blackmore and De Bromhead also posed for the cameras with their miniature Gold Cups and Sox got a good pitch as well, as did the trainer’s horse-mad 13-year-old twins Jack and Mia. Their secondary school was on a half-day but younger sister Georgia wasn’t as lucky, so she was missing.
Cheveley Park’s A Plus Tard, who is finished for the season, and dual Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle were understandably the centre of attention and the latter was on her best behaviour, despite having her own little quirks at times.
Rachael, who apologised if she was “a bit hoarse” after her first night out since Cheltenham in Kilkenny the previous evening, explained: “A Plus Tard is a lot friendlier – you can go off and give him a rub. He has been so good to me in my career and gave me my first Cheltenham winner. That was a magic day and I feel very happy that it’s still happening.”
De Bromhead’s wife Heather, meanwhile, was talking Boodles diamonds with a couple of her friends and making a fuss of her two labradors. Henry’s parents Harry and Sally were also enjoying the occasion. They didn’t travel to Cheltenham but were there in spirit.
Said Sally: “It’s a never-ending dream. We’re thrilled and have to pinch ourselves. We had a lovely party at home with Maureen Mullins’s sister Angela and it was great fun – we were cheering each other on!”
Rachael skilfully dodged the perennial question of whether she thought her achievements would inspire a future generation of girls to become jockeys but did, however, make the point: “When I was growing up, I looked at Nina and Katie for inspiration but, in our sport, we’re never segregated by gender. In my younger days when I was show jumping, it was your age that defined your category.”
Honeysuckle’s owner Kenny Alexander’s racing manager Peter Molony, together with his wife Sarah were also enjoying Honeysuckle’s day in the sun
“All going well, she’ll go to Punchestown,” Molony confirmed.
“After Punchestown, she’ll come home to us for the summer and then, everything crossed, we’ll get one more season before she retires to the breeding shed.”
On the two sides of Honeysuckle’s character, Molony added: “Once she’s game fit, she’d eat you alive but, when she comes home for the summer, she’ll put her head in your lap and have a cuddle. She likes all the attention and it’s all been an amazing dream.”
Henry and Rachael were in total agreement.