AS so many Irish winners at this week’s Cheltenham Festival have connections with the sport horse world in this country, a dedicated report will refer to these next Saturday.
However, as these pages had covered the countrywide affection and support shown to Henry, Heather, Mia and Georgia de Bromhead following the tragic death of their son and brother Jack last September, it would be remiss not to mention that the same was displayed by racegoers at Prestbury Park this week.
This was particularly evident on Tuesday following Honeysuckle’s success under Rachael Blackmore in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1). Returning to form at the most opportune time, Kenny Alexander’s Sulamani nine-year-old bowed out from racing after a career which netted 17 victories from 19 track starts – all under Blackmore – including those in the Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) in 2021 and 2022.
Henry de Bromhead also sent out the Darragh O’Keeffe-ridden Maskada to win the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) on Wednesday and the Blackmore-partnered Envoi Allen to land the Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) on Thursday. Disappointingly, the yard failed to win the Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) later on day three when the Adrian Heskin-ridden Magical Zoe, who finished second, fared best of the five de Bromhead runners.
While most of those who partnered winners over the first three days of the Festival will have been members of Pony Clubs, have hunted and/or most likely have ridden in pony races as did Blackmore, she was also very successful in the show ring, particularly in working hunter competitions, and as a Junior event rider.
There was an eventing connection to the winner of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) on Wednesday as J.P. McManus’ A Dream To Share was broken for his breeders, the Gleeson family, at her Gormanstown Stud by Edie Murray-Hayden. The five-year-old Muhaarar gelding provided his rider, Leaving Certificate student John Gleeson, with a first Festival success on his first ride and was also a first Festival winner for his 86-year-old trainer, John Kiely.
Other successful horses over the first three days with connections to the sport horse world include Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) winner Constitution Hill, Marine Nationale and Jazzy Matty who both also won on day one, Wednesday’s Glenfarclas cross-country chase winner Delta Work and Angels Dawn who won Thursday’s Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase.