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A Plus Tard’s flop baffles Henry de Bromhead but Honeysuckle primed to cement legacy

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Henry de Bromhead. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Henry de Bromhead. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Henry de Bromhead. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

HENRY DE BROMHEAD is still scratching his head as to what went wrong with Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard after an abysmal display in last Saturday’s Betfair Chase.

The vibes were as strong as ever before the Grade One with the eight-year-old working smartly at De Bromhead’s Waterford base, but he was never travelling under Rachael Blackmore before pulling up three fences from home.

Nothing has come to light to explain A Plus Tard’s off-colour display but it hasn’t dented the Knockeen handler’s confidence in him, and the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas is still firmly on the agenda.

“No, nothing as yet,” he said yesterday. “I just saw him this morning and he trotted out perfect. We just don’t know at the moment. I just don’t know. Could it be as simple as the ground, it was completely different ground.

“When I saw the ground of course I was concerned but it was still too bad to be ground. We’re kind of stunned really to be honest but I think we have to continue with the same plan. You still have the guts of six weeks until the Savills Chase.

“We’d love to go there once we feel he’s right but we’ll be doing every test we can between now and then and just making sure that he is right. We’d love to still go there.”

De Bromhead doesn’t buy any notion that the exertions of winning the Cheltenham blue riband in March may have taken their toll on A Plus Tard as his work had given his trainer the wow factor before his Haydock flop.

“You always have a hard race in the Gold Cup but he came back looking great and his work has been amazing, he worked really well 10 days or two weeks ago. He did exactly the same before the Gold Cup, his form has been brilliant so that’s not an excuse,” he said.

There will be a quick shot at redemption on Sunday week when stablemate Honeysuckle bids to make it 17 wins from 17 races on the track in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

The wonder mare has emerged from her summer break in smashing order, with De Bromhead giving a positive bulletin on the eight-year-old ahead of her attempt to win the prestigious Grade One for a fourth time.

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“She’s great, she’s in really good form. She schooled this morning, Rachael schooled her and she was brilliant. She seems really well, her work is good. She’s got one more bigger piece of work to do and then off to the Hatton’s Grace,” he said.

Despite being a dual Champion Hurdle winner, Honeysuckle is 7/2 second-favourite behind Constitution Hill (5/4) – trained by Nicky Henderson – for next year’s hurdling showpiece. His trainer has full faith in her ability, though.

“You can see why people would support Constitution Hill, he was so impressive (in the Supreme) and his times and all the various things we gauge these races on.

“You can understand that but on the other hand, she’s been there and done it all, she’s stood the test of time.

“If you think of the Hatton’s Grace last year when she had it won half a mile from home, they’d gone a ferocious gallop so the faster they go, the more it will suit her. She just seems to be able to do it no matter what, no matter what ground, trip, pace, she just seems to always do it.

“All we can do is just keep trying to have her as right as we can, try and beat who we can and if someone beats us fair play to them, we’ve had some spin with her. I was slightly taken aback last year when they said Constitution Hill was a freak and that was a freaky performance.

“I was being interviewed and my point was, ‘I’m not saying that he wouldn’t beat her but surely if he’s a freak, then she’s a freak in what she’s achieved?’ Let’s just get them there now.”


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