De Bromhead and Blackmore bring Cheltenham to historic climax

Pirate IRWIN
·3-min read

Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead celebrated an historic "Holy Trinity" of wins at the Cheltenham Festival after Minella Indo won the Gold Cup on Friday as Rachael Blackmore was crowned top jockey.

De Bromhead became the first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup at the same event.

Blackmore rode Honeysuckle to victory in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday and De Bromhead won Wednesday's Champion Chase with Put The Kettle On.

Irish jockey Blackmore, 31, barely put a foot wrong all week, winning six races to become the first woman to win the coveted prize for riders at the four-day jump-racing festival.

But she had to settle for second best in Friday's blue riband Gold Cup, riding De Bromhead's other runner, A Plus Tard.

Jack Kennedy, 21, who missed last year's festival with a broken leg, delivered a fine ride on 9-1 chance Minella Indo, winning by a length and a quarter.

Two-time defending champion Al Boum Photo was third.

"I think I am still in my hotel room on Monday night and nothing has started," said De Bromhead after sealing the so-called "Holy Trinity".

"It is amazing... just brilliant. I am delighted. It is unbelievable to go and do it with him (Minella Indo), he is an incredible horse. It is amazing, he just comes alive here."

Kennedy said he had dreamed of winning the race since he was a child.

"Thankfully I've had a year this year that I'll remember for a long time," he said. "It could always be a lot worse -- broken legs and broken collarbones will heal."

Despite De Bromhead's success his domestic rival, Willie Mullins, took the training honours, with six wins after an outstanding week for Irish trainers.

- Top jockey -

Blackmore's sixth win came on De Bromhead's Quilixios in the opening race of the day on Friday, the Triumph Hurdle.

De Bromhead took charge of Quilixios after owners Cheveley Park Stud removed their horses from shamed rival Gordon Elliott, who is currently banned from the sport after being photographed sitting on a dead horse.

Only retired great Ruby Walsh, after whom the riders' trophy is named, has won more races -- seven on two occasions -- at a single Cheltenham Festival.

"It's phenomenal," said Blackmore. "I can’t even comprehend being leading rider in Cheltenham. Getting an award from AP McCoy in the shape of Ruby Walsh, that’s crazy.

"It’s been a brilliant week. Henry de Bromhead is just an incredible trainer and I'm just part of that team and getting on those horses.

"Honeysuckle is definitely the standout moment of the week for me. She’s extremely special and was phenomenal in the Champion Hurdle -- and I got a great thrill off Allaho (in the Ryanair Chase)."

For Irish jockey Jonathan Moore it was a case of what might have been after he had to admit on Thursday he was too sore to ride at Cheltenham following a fall last Sunday.

For the second day in succession he was a bystander as a horse he should have ridden won.

The lucky man was Mark Walsh, guiding home Vanillier to win the Novices' Hurdle for trainer Gavin Cromwell and notching another Irish winner.

"One man's bad luck is another's gain," said Walsh as Moore looked on.