Tuesday 20 August 2019

High-flying De Bromhead has feet firmly on the ground

In the stables

Tough at the top: Henry de Bromhead says success didn’t come overnight. Photo: Sportsfile
Tough at the top: Henry de Bromhead says success didn’t come overnight. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Expectations are often shaped by experience and there was little fear of Henry de Bromhead getting carried away with the complex demands of life as a trainer after his first official day.

Having served an extensive apprenticeship, including time with Mark Prescott and Robert Alner, De Bromhead took over from his father Harry at their Waterford yard in 2000 and looked set to hit the ground running.

The Knockeen handler was confident of success when going to his local track in Tramore on New Year's Day but racing is anything but predictable, and that day was an appropriate introduction to what would follow.

"I got a real taste for what it's like training horses on my first day. We had an odds-on shot in a maiden hurdle that we thought would win and he got beaten. The horse that we thought would need the run came out and won," he says.

It's nearly 20 years since he took the reins - something he finds "hard to believe" - and huge success has followed with the likes of Sizing Europe and Petit Mouchoir, but De Bromhead has no hesitation in explaining that he views himself as a pessimist.

He had flirted with accountancy but racing was always his biggest passion, although he isn't one to lose the run of himself on the good days as the nature of the game means that the bad are more likely than the good.

"I think it's to do with the nature of the game. I think you're better to keep your expectations low and try to manage expectations. It's less of a fall when things don't work out and it's a lovely high when they do," he says.

"There's plenty of ups and downs and you have to enjoy the highs and manage the lows. The highs are fantastic and the lows make you appreciate them even more."

Given the dangers involved with horses the perils are obvious and De Bromhead was heartbroken in Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival following the fatal injuries of 2017 Champion Chase winner Special Tiara and the promising Malinas Jack.

"You never like to lose any horse and with the good ones, it's even harder. That was tough. It's the bad side of our sport but they are horses that we had some great days with," he says.

They were two rare blemishes on a season which has seen De Bromhead notch 90 Irish winners (and counting), his best total yet, with a century of successes almost certain.

Two Cheltenham Festival winners last month - A Plus Tard and Minella Indo - were the cherry on the cake as his part-partnership with the magnificent Rachael Blackmore continues to yield fruit for both parties.

"It's been very easy to have faith in Rachael, she just keeps winning. She's just a very good rider, she gives great feedback, she works very hard and she wants it as much as us. It's been a really good year and it's working well for us."

With Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud being one of his main owners, there's pressure to deliver winners. But it's no different than any other owner and he hopes to keep moving in the right direction.

"There's pressure for all owners really, be it Gigginstown or anyone else.

"I'd certainly put myself under pressure, you want to provide results for people. It's all about training winners really, that's where the fun is.

"Everyone wants winners, that's why we're all in it so I'd put myself under pressure to provide winners for all our clients. Thankfully, this is by far and away our best season numerically."

Irish Independent

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