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Henry De Bromhead
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Cheltenham Festival: A look at Henry De Bromhead's Festival runners

Henry De Bromhead has become one of the Cheltenham Festival's top trainers in recent seasons and heads for the Cotswolds this year looking to complete hat-tricks in the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.

The Irishman has prepared Honeysuckle beautifully to win two Champion Hurdles, while in the previous two Gold Cups he's had the first two home, with A Plus Tard and Minella Indo trading places. 

We take a look at some of De Bromhead's leading contenders for glory at the 'greatest show on turf' from 14th-17th March in Cheltenham.

WhatCheltenham Festival 2023
WhereCheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire
WhenTuesday 14th March - Friday 17th March, 2023
How to watchRacing TV, selected races on ITV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming

Champion Hurdle 

Honeysuckle – 8/1 

At the time of writing, Honeysuckle has only been defeated once in her career. 

She's a two-time Champion Hurdle winner and is set to return to Cheltenham on day one of the 2023 Festival with a chance to emulate the greats by landing a record-equalling third score in this race. 

Despite all that, she's being written off in many quarters. That lone defeat of course came in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse in December on her comeback. 

The recency of it and the surprise element are contributory factors in the doubt that exist now. So, too, massively so, is Constitution Hill. 

He casts a long shadow over the race and has been ultra-impressive in his two Grade 1 wins this season. Honeysuckle will attempt to win a fourth Irish Champion Hurdle on 5th February at Leopardstown. 

Victory there – where she's 2/1 – would surely tee up a crack at Constitution Hill. Defeat and it has been strongly hinted by her connections she'll be retired. 

Hopefully it's the former – the racing public badly wants to see Honeysuckle vs. Constitution Hill in the Cotswolds.

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Ryanair Chase 

Envoi Allen – 25/1 

This could be one from left-field. Envoi Allen was once deemed to be a superstar in the making when trained by Gordon Elliott but his trajectory went downhill after he left Cullentra. 

Most spectacularly in fact, losing his unbeaten record at this meeting in 2021 when he fell in the Turners (then Marsh) Novices' Chase on his first run for De Bromhead. 

It was up and down after that but, having proved no match for Energumene at two-miles last season (twice third in Grade 1s behind him), De Bromhead took a stab at three-miles on his comeback and Envoi Allen rewarded him with victory in Down Royal's Grade 1 Champion Chase in November. 

The King George since didn't pan out and it's hard to know where he goes now. He gets three-miles but the Gold Cup might be pushing his stamina too far. 

A stiff test over 2m5f in the Ryanair could be optimal and he's still a class act on his day. It's one of two Cheltenham entries he holds and he could outrun a big price.

Mares Novices' Hurdle 

Magical Zoe – 10/1 

It's safe to say that De Bromhead's season hasn't scaled the heights of recent times, at least not yet, and there is mitigation. 

In September, the trainer tragically lost his teenage son Jack in a pony racing accident. The Knockeen handler has admitted the support from within racing has come as a consistent source of strength to his family. 

On 16th March the Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle will be run at Cheltenham in honour of the boy so sadly missed, with his father describing as 'incredible' the gesture from race sponsor Michael O'Leary to rename the contest. 

Clearly, it's a race he'd dearly love to win. The extended two-mile contest has been the long-term target for De Bromhead's Magical Zoe since she finished with a fine burst to win the Grade 3 Feathard Lady Mares Novice Hurdle at Down Royal in November. 

That race has worked very nicely and this unbeaten hurdler is very much one to consider for her Festival target on form alone, leaving aside the emotional attachment of what the win would mean.

Gold Cup 

A Plus Tard – 8/1 

When A Plus Tard stormed up the Cheltenham hill to win the Gold Cup by 15-lengths last March, it would have taken a brave call to be offering 8/1 on the repeat this time around. 

But a year is a long time in racing and the Cheveley Park Stud-owned nine-year-old has a cloud of uncertainty over him after being pulled up in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in his comeback. 

That was a contest he'd won easily the year before and the defeat was compounded when A Plus Tard was a late absentee in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas on veterinary advice after he 'banged his joint'. 

Since then, De Bromhead has confirmed there are no options for a prep-run with a horse that needs to go left-handed and he'll be heading straight to the Gold Cup, with the trainer adamant he's 'well able to get him spot on for the day and we'll just aim for that'. 

It's a big ask but, aside from 6/4 favourite Galopin Des Champs, the Gold Cup isn't the deepest of races this year and A Plus Tard has a decent record when fresh so all is far from lost. 

Minella Indo won at Tramore on New Year's Day and heads back to Cheltenham a 20/1 chance to emulate the great Kauto Star in becoming just the second horse to win the Gold Cup, lose it, and then regain it. It's a tall order.

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