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

The Cheltenham Festival kicks off four weeks today and in the latest of our countdown series to the big event we are focusing on the hopes of Henry De Bromhead.

The Co Waterford handler has been established as a leading light at the meeting for quite some time, but in 2021 things went to a different level as he sent out a career-high six Cheltenham Festival winners across the four days, including a famous one-two in the Gold Cup itself.

Here's a look at some of De Bromhead's main hopes heading towards the Cotswolds next month, with all the action available on our Sports Live Streaming platform.

Golden girl hoping to be on the Honey

There's absolutely no doubting the star turn in De Bromhead's armoury these days. On March 15th Honeysuckle will defend her Champion Hurdle crown in Cheltenham and the unbeaten mare is already 4/9 to take the prize again.

Her victory under Rachael Blackmore last March was the springboard for a great week for the jockey and trainer combo.

Since then, Honeysuckle has extended her perfect sequence to 14 under rules, most recently winning a third Irish Champion Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival in imperious fashion. That win saw her equalling the winning sequence of the great modern star of the flat, Frankel.

Honeysuckle's following in Ireland has now almost reached cult status, as witnessed with the crowds that thronged around the parade ring to greet her following that latest success.

Viable opposition in the Champion Hurdle appears thin on the ground, with last year's Supreme Novices' winner Appreciate It second in the market at 5/1 despite having yet to race this season.

Barring an accident, Honeysuckle looks set to retain this crown and further supplement her star status.

Most Festival wins as a trainer

Willie Mullins78
Nicky Henderson70
Paul Nicholls46
Fulke Walwyn40
Martin Pipe34

Gold Cup pair back for more

Having won the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase last spring, De Bromhead then enjoyed a one-two as Minella Indo led home stablemate A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup itself.

Blackmore, for once, made the wrong call in an otherwise perfect week as she chose to partner the latter, leaving Jack Kennedy on the winner.

It's been a season of contrasting fortunes for those two star stayers on their road back to Cheltenham.

Minella Indo hasn't won any of his three starts. He was beaten on comeback at Down Royal then pulled up in the King George on Boxing Day, but his recent second in the Irish Gold Cup was viewed by many as a fine prep for Cheltenham and he's now 11/2 to retain the Blue Riband on 18th March.

A Plus Tard, meanwhile, dished out a resounding defeat to his rivals on comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and looked set to make it 2-2 this season in the Savills at Leopardstown over Christmas, only to be nailed on the line by Galvin under an inspired Davy Russell.

Blackmore's commitment is in place to ride A Plus Tard again in the Gold Cup and they are 3/1 to go a place better.

De Bromhead will be eager to see both horses get back to the big stage in full cry and, no doubt, would settle for seeing them occupy the first two berths again in any order.

Bob's the boy again

Bob Olinger's only defeat so far came when he finished second to Ferny Hollow in a maiden hurdle in November 2020.

Last season's ultra-impressive Ballymore winner has won both starts in Ireland this winter over fences and while he hasn't dazzled as some might have hoped, it's very hard to pick holes in what he has done all the same.

De Bromhead's early-season forecast was that the Robcour-owned runner would stick to middle-distance races this season and so it has proved so far.

He's priced at 1/1 to win the Turners Novices' Chase on 17th March over the intermediate trip.

British runner L'homme Presse looks the main danger on paper to his hopes, with the likes of Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame seemingly headed down the three-mile route in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase instead.

Related Cheltenham News

Cheltenham: Bravemansgame ticks another box

Cheltenham: A look at Nicky Henderson's Festival runners

Cheltenham: A look at Paul Nicholls' Festival runners

Cheltenham: A look at Willie Mullins' Festival runners

Special Envoi has a point to prove

How things can change in a year - Envoi Allen went to Cheltenham last March with the world seemingly at his hooves.

He had of course made a dramatic switch to De Bromhead's stable from Gordon Elliott, but few were predicting his winning run would be ending in the Cotswolds. It did, when he fell in the Marsh and things have been tough for him since.

He required surgery after a disappointing run at Punchestown in April and this season has been underwhelming despite two wins in three starts.

He was beaten in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown in December, as Allaho won for Willie Mullins in the same Cheveley Park Stud colours.

That same rival is 11/10 to retain his Ryanair Chase crown on 17th March, a race Envoi Allen is 12/1 to scoop.

As much as defeat was almost out of the question last season, maybe there's been too much of a rush to write Envoi Allen off this term and De Bromhead will be hoping he can show he still has that star potential at Cheltenham.

Telmesomethinggirl heads for Mares' prize

Another of the De Bromhead haul last March was Telmesomethinggirl, who came from the rear of the field under an ice-cool Blackmore to win the Mares' Novices' Hurdle in fine style.

That remains the standout effort of her career and her supporters will be hoping that returning to the famous Cotswolds turf brings about a repeat level of performance on 15th March in the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle, which she is 7/2 to win.

Her most recent run saw her finish a close third behind Royal Kahala in a Grade 3 at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival over the 2m4f trip. Peter Fahey's mare has since won a Grade 2 at three-miles and could well be Stayers' Hurdle bound.

That might pave the way for Telmesomethinggirl to take aim at the Mares' Hurdle instead and that all-important Festival form will have plenty believing she can return to concert-pitch at this meeting for the second time.

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