De Bromhead grateful for the support
— Michael Hernon (@hernon_michael) December 27, 2019
Henry De Bromhead may attempt to win a maiden Randox Health Grand National this season with Sub Lieutenant or Poker Party but the Co Waterford trainer remains grateful to those that help him along the way.
De Bromhead is no stranger to big-race success, with Sizing Europe and Special Tiara both having won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
He doesn’t have the numbers of a Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott, but the Irish trainer is firmly established as a top handler and credits owners and jockeys with their part in his story.
Potts the difference maker
The 47-year-old took over his father Harry’s license as a trainer in 1999, having previously qualified as an accountant. Despite some initial success, the numbers were soon failing to add up.
He managed just three winners in the 2002/03 season and the same paltry tally the following year.
He made ends meet, but De Bromhead admits things changed for his yard the afternoon the late Alan Potts came through the gate.
“We were very fortunate the day Alan Potts came into the yard. He came in to buy a horse called Oscar India who he had read about winning a point,” says the trainer.
“We were starting to get going again but he accelerated our progress by taking a punt on us. He liked us. He turned up to buy Oscar India, but I put him off because he got hurt so he bought a couple of young horses instead.
“We had 14 horses here when he came into the yard, next thing he buys 14 horses and gave them to us. That was the difference he made at the time.”
Blackmore the driving force now
Potts colours are still carried in racing circles but times have moved on for De Bromhead, who now has a new face fronting his operation at Knockeen.
That is Rachel Blackmore, the hugely talented rider breaking down barriers one-by-one for female riders.
She rode a Cheltenham Festival brace last season and duelled with Paul Townend for the Irish jockeys’ crown.
She’s the rider entrusted with most of De Bromhead’s runners now and he feels her style suits the way he likes them to run.
“I think she suits our horses. We are forward-going, which she likes, but she can ride a race from anywhere,” he told the Racing Post.
“She won a Kerry National from out the back. She won a maiden hurdle [recently] from way back. She can ride any race. She’s brilliant to get them jumping. Horses just jump for her, I don’t know if that’s a female thing, but they just do.”
Party at Aintree?
Next month De Bromhead will hope to have Sub Lieutenant and Poker Party run for him in the Grand National.
Gigginstown runner Sub Lieutenant was a Grade 3 winner over fences in 2018 under Blackmore and finished second in the Topham at Aintree last spring under her steer.
He ran an acceptable fourth in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on his only start this season and is in line to carry 10st 9lb in the National.
Poker Party meanwhile will have 8lb less on his back if he makes the National line-up (currently 51st in the list).
He won the Kerry National back in the autumn and remains in decent form after just two outings since. The eight-year-old has only had 12 starts over fences, winning three times, and will be having his stamina truly examined for the first time.
An Aintree National win would be the latest landmark for De Bromhead, a man for whom the numbers certainly tot up well these days.