Before this year, Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead was arguably best known for his successes with Sizing Europe. With a victory in the 2010 Arkle Challenge Trophy, he was the horse that landed the 48-year-old his maiden Cheltenham Festival triumph, and he followed that up with a win in the Queen Mother Champion Chase back at Prestbury Park in 2011.

From there, wins were few and far between for de Bromhead at Cheltenham, especially in the big outings with only Special Tiara winning a feature race, the 2017 Champion Chase, in the decade between 2011 and 2021. However, this year, the County Waterford-based trainer has taken the sport by storm and in the last couple of months alone, he has made history on numerous occasions.

That includes becoming the first trainer to win National Hunt racing’s big four races in the same year. So, without further ado, lets take a look at his historic quadruple.

Cheltenham Champion Hurdle – Honeysuckle

Given that Honeysuckle went into the Champion Hurdle, day one’s feature race, unbeaten in 10 races, it’s no surprise that the mare was heavily backed on the online sports betting sites, and she duly delivered for de Bromhead. With fellow history maker Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, Honeysuckle went on to beat Willie Mullins-trained Sharjah by over six lengths with defending champion Epatante lagging some nine-and-a-half lengths behind in third.

Queen Mother Champion Chase – Put The Kettle On

Despite boasting over 70 wins at the Festival, Mullins is yet to win the Champion Chase. Odds-on favourite Chacun Pour Soi (8/13) was expected to end that drought this year. However, Aidan Coleman and Put The Kettle On had other ideas. It was an extremely tight race and the drama heightened with several horses in contention as they raced up the home straight. In the end, it was Put The Kettle On, who set off at 17/2, who landed a narrow victory, beating Nube Negra over the line by just half a length. The market leader was just a further length behind.

Cheltenham Gold Cup – Minella Indo

Given de Bromhead’s and Blackmore’s week in the build-up to the Gold Cup, it seemed if anyone was going to deny Al Boum Photo an historic third successive victory in the showpiece race it would be A Plus Tard. However, it was the trainer’s much less fancied entry Minella Indo who prevailed. Blackmore is the horse’s regular rider, but with the 31-year-old opting to ride A Plus Tard, Jack Kennedy was sworn in for the race, and the 21-year-old guided the 9/1 shot over the line a length-and-a-quarter clear of Blackmore. On top of the impressive 1-2 in the Gold Cup, de Bromhead became the first trainer to win the three races in the same year at the Festival.

The Grand National – Minella Times

Just when you thought a 1-2 in the Gold Cup couldn’t be topped, de Bromhead landed the same feat in the recent Grand National. Minella Times lined up for starter’s orders amongst the front runners at around 9/1, and the whole nation would have been on their feet cheering as Blackmore and the eight-year-old romped over the line, as she became the first female jockey to win the prestigious race in the process. Behind her was fellow de Bromhead-trained horse Balko Des Flos (100/1) and jockey Coleman.

“It’s just brilliant, a lot’s down to Rachael and she was just brilliant on him today,” de Bromhead said afterwards. “She hardly left the rail, she was just brilliant on him and it’s brilliant to get it for the McManus family. I’m over the moon. And Balko Des Flos was brilliant as well.”

There are of course many champions of racing. Just yesterday we saw the shock retirement of Four-time champion jump jockey Richard Johnson – a man who amassed a mind boggling 3500+ career wins and was much loved and respected by all in racing. Despite of all those wins though, and two Cheltenham Gold Cup victories, a Grand National win eluded him. Does that make him any less of a champion though? Of course not.

I feel similarly about Katie Walsh. In the above Betway Racing video Walsh explains not only how she holds the women’s record for placing third in the Grand National in 2012 (and has ridden three winners at the Cheltenham Festival), but also details the hard fought efforts across decades to carve out a place for women in racing. For me, her ‘champion’ status clearly also involves championing the well overdo recognition of woman in the sport, and in the Grand National itself. In this years Aintree Grand National three women take part (a joint record), and I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time before one of them is first past the post. Tune in on April 10th!

Here at Champions of Racing we both highlight and celebrate jockeys, and trainers who excel at the highest level in this, the sport of kings. There can be no greatest platform to demonstrate your racing credentials than the Cheltenham Festival, held in March of every year. In 2021 we get to see the likes of Al Boum Photo, Champ and A Plus Tard show us what they’re made of, and of course it’s also an opportunity for jockeys and trainers alike to excel too. A prime example of that is the Prestbury Cup, which sees Ireland and Great Britain go head to head. Betway have created their own humorous version of the Prestbury Cup in quiz form. Mark Noble and Jesse Lingard (Team UK) and Michail Antonio and Darren Randolph (Team Ireland) go head to head with their racing knowledge. Check it out.

When it comes to female jockeys’ participation in elite events, racing has reached something of a strange juncture. We can point to the fact that more work needs to be done, but we can also see tangible progress in some cases. The most important factor, however, is that some women are simply excelling at the highest level of the sport. On the flat, we can cite Hollie Doyle, who had a record-breaking 2019 and 2020, finishing fourth in the Flat Jockey’s Championship last year. Doyle was later names The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year for 2020.

In jumps racing, there are several names who pop up as trailblazers for female jockeys, including Bryony Frost, who became the first woman to win the King George VI Chase last month. But if we are to look ahead to the Cheltenham Festival (16-19th March), there is one woman who could truly blow the roof off in 2021 – Rachel Blackmore. The 31-year-old from Tipperary is no stranger to success at Cheltenham. And, if you look back at Cheltenham Festival results from previous years, you’ll see she has already had some big wins, notably in the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle (2020) and the Albert Bartlett (2019).

However, it seems that the stars have aligned for Blackmore leading up to 2021. She has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with trainer Henry de Bromhead, whose stable is shaping up for an excellent Festival. Paul Townend, who will ride the pick of Willie Mullins’ horses, is the favourite for the top jockey award, but Blackmore is not far behind her countryman, and nobody would be surprised if she pulled it off given her book for Cheltenham 2021. Below we look at some of her best chances:


The winner of the 2020 Mares’ Hurdle, Honeysuckle is 3/1 (co-favourite with Concertista) to give Blackmore and de Bromhead another Grade 1 victory in 2021. Honeysuckle has nine wins from nine starts in her career. The only question is whether de Bromhead decides to go for a bigger prize at Cheltenham, like the Champion Hurdle. The mare is booked for the Irish Champion Hurdle on 6th February, and that might have a big impact on his decision.

Minella Indo/A Plus Tard

At the time of writing, Minella Indo is the second-favourite for the most prestigious race at Cheltenham – the Gold Cup. The 8-year-old has shown plenty of class over the last couple of years, but there are question marks over whether he is good enough to do it in the toughest race of the Festival. A Plus Tard is just behind Minella Indo in the odds, and there is an assumption that Blackmore will opt for him over Minella Indo. Darragh O’Keefe was in the saddle when A Plus Tard beat the latter (Minella Indo fell) at Leopardstown.

Bob Olinger

A horse that has only really positioned himself as a Cheltenham chance in recent weeks, Blackmore rode Bob Olinger to a fine victory in the Grade 1 (Blackmore’s 11th) Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle in mid-January. Bob Olinger has now been placed as 5/1 second-favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, just a fraction behind the Paul Nicholl’s-trained Bravemansgame in the betting odds.

Aspire Tower

Assuming that Honeysuckle avoids the Champion Hurdle, then Blackmore will likely ride 16/1 shot Aspire Tower. The horse certainly has the credentials to tempt punters in the each way markets, but questions over race favourite, Epatante, could open the door further. It would be considered a shock if Blackmore and Aspire Tower take the Champion Hurdle, but only a minor one.


Notebook flopped at the Festival last year when favourite for the Arkle. But there are still some who believe that the 8-year-old can turn things around. He is likely to have a tilt at the Champion Chase, where he is priced up at 22/1 in the ante-post markets. Notebook finished six lengths behind current Champion Chase favourite, Chacun Pour Soi, at Leopardstown over Christmas. Another each-way chance, but don’t be shocked if Blackmore can go one better.