Saturday 10 December 2016

De Bromhead deserves this shot at Gold

Co Waterford trainer thrives despite loss of Potts horses

Johnny Ward

Published 14/11/2016 | 02:30

Aidan Coleman is sent tumbling to the ground as Mick Thonic falls at the last in yesterday’s Arkle Trial Novice Chase. Photo credit: Julian Herbert/PA Wire
Aidan Coleman is sent tumbling to the ground as Mick Thonic falls at the last in yesterday’s Arkle Trial Novice Chase. Photo credit: Julian Herbert/PA Wire

Henry De Bromhead in post-race briefings tends not to deviate from script, yet there was something different about his body language in Down Royal on JNWine.com Chase day.

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The horse Absolutlyfantastic, which he trained, must have been named after him, honouring two words the trainer frequently calls upon in hailing the latest winner. He was owned by Alan Potts, whose alliance with the trainer ended in somewhat mysterious circumstances this year.

De Bromhead is exceedingly diplomatic with the press and his conduct after the split with the Englishman was an example to every other trainer. Not one negative word was mentioned, even it is glaringly apparent that there had to be at least a degree of acrimony about it all.

De Bromhead was being interviewed in the Maze after Valseur Lido landed the feature of the day. The realisation that he had a genuine Gold Cup contender on his hands seemed to be struggling to sink in.

Valseur Lido was one of the 15 horses owned by Gigginstown that joined the stable from Willie Mullins. On the same card, the ex-Sandra Hughes steed, Sub Lieutenant, produced a sparkling win in the Grade Two.

It looks entirely plausible that Valseur Lido is going to reach a career-high performance for De Bromhead, yet the transformation of Sub Lieutenant has been astounding. In eight chase starts before moving to Knockeen, he managed just one win and was prone to make critical mistakes.

This is perhaps what makes De Bromhead tick most - as David Roche, the amateur rider who is a key cog in the operation, explains.

"He loves schooling the horses. If one isn't jumping well, he'll keep schooling him until he does. It becomes second nature to the horses. Even the good horses school the same as others.

"The horses love doing it - they go into the indoor arena totally on their own with nobody on them, start bucking and basically without any prompting start jumping themselves. If you love something, it helps."

Jockey/trainer Paul Power spent many years in the stable and makes the same point. "There are four fences up a steep hill outside but most schooling is done in the indoor arena.

"Even if the horses are having an easy day, they might go down for a loose school (riderless); they are jumping, fresh and enjoying themselves. Look at Sizing Europe and Loosen My Load, how long they kept their form."

According to Roche, De Bromhead worked hard to attract new owners other than Potts to ensure he was not entirely reliant on one.

The alliance began out of the blue and it lasted as long as it did thanks to two things: a rake of Grade One wins and the trainer being thick-skinned.

Eventually Potts moved his horses elsewhere, as he usually does. Gigginstown doesn't mess about either and in Valseur Lido, Sub Lieutenant and Identity Thief, the axis has three exciting contenders for Cheltenham.

Henry De Bromhead, Power says, treats all owners the same, be they Gigginstown or the neighbour. A certainty to have his best season yet in terms of winners, despite a luckless day yesterday at Cheltenham, there would be no more worthy Gold Cup winner there than the master of Knockeen.

Mullins foiled

The Willie Mullins-trained Footpad just lost out to Capivari in a close finish to the Grade One Prix Renaud du Vivier at Auteuil.

Richard Hobson's Chic Name made the running until the second-last hurdle where Device, ridden by James Reveley, took a tumble when about to make a serious challenge. Footpad had every chance, but could not hold Francois Cottin's Capivari, who just prevailed in the hands of Regis Schmidlin.

'punter' on the ball

'The PUNTER' followers had an 8/1 winner when Taquin De Seuil won the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday under Aidan Coleman.

RIDE OF THE WEEK

Roger Loughran gave Peregrine Run such a polished steer on Friday at Cheltenham, it was hard to believe he has so few winners nowadays.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"I hope I'm as popular next year with the Flat trainers as I am with the jumps trainers."

Tom Queally after making all the running on Bobbie Emerald in a handicap hurdle restricted to Flat jockeys at Lingfield last Monday. .

GAMBLE OF THE WEEK

Supported overnight at 2/1, Michael Halford's Heat Of The Day drifted to double figures on the exchanges the following day ahead of running at Dundalk last Wednesay. On track, she was hammered back into 3/1 and beaten a neck.

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