NEXT week’s Punchestown Festival has attracted a host of cracking entries from both sides of the Irish Sea for all the major races.
Most of this season’s jumping stars will be on show and national hunt fans are in for a real treat next week at the Kildare venue. Henry de Bromhead is looking forward to his string of stars competing at the eagerly awaited Festival.
The Waterford handler won the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase and saddled the first two home in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham — the first time all three championship races had been won by the same trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, following the record-breaking achievement he remarkably sent out the first and second in the Randox Grand National.
The popular trainer is still coming to terms with his achievements at Cheltenham and Aintree.
“I was just getting my head around Cheltenham and then we went and won the National. They are the races you grow up watching and dream of having runners in.
“Everyone is sick of my superlatives and I’ve run out of things to say, it’s just brilliant.
“Hopefully when things calm down after Punchestown we’ll be able to savour it even more, but the times we are in we’re not able to celebrate much — but that is better for my liver anyhow. If it was a normal Cheltenham, I’m not sure if I’d have even seen Cheltenham!
“Everyone gets on a run, but it is incredible ours has happened now. We’ve got years of experience in the teams at home, it’s a great team, owners have confidence and faith in us and we’ve brilliant jockeys.
“It’s a combination of a lot of things, but no one is more surprised than I am.”
De Bromhead is planning on running most of his Cheltenham winners at Punchestown, including Gold Cup hero Minella Indo and the superb mare Honeysuckle.
Minella Indo is set to do battle in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup on the second day, with Jack Kennedy keeping the plum ride.
Honeysuckle is sure to go chasing next term but for now she will line up in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
De Bromhead’s new recruit Envoi Allen is on target for a mouth-watering tussle with Monkfish in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase on the opening day. Envoi Allen had taken all before him with 11 straight victories inside the rails for Gordon Elliott before he fell when favourite to land the Marsh Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his first outing having been switched to Henry de Bromhead.
The Waterford trainer reported the seven-year-old to be none the worse for that mishap and he can't wait to see how the clash of the Festival unfolds against Willie Mullins' unbeaten chaser Monkfish.
Bob Olinger and Quilixios are others due to run at a meeting which will also decide who is champion jockey, with Blackmore chasing down Cork native Paul Townend.
The gap is currently eight, with Paul Townend still on the side lines with a foot injury.
“I’m not sure what Paul’s situation is, I don’t know if he’ll be back. It’s going to be tough even if he’s not back, but we’ll be trying to do our best and support her the best we can,” said De Bromhead.
“I’ve said it all before, but I think she’s just brilliant — we’re very lucky to have her."
We also learned this week that in form trainer Gavin Cromwell confirmed that Cheltenham Stayers Hurdle victor Flooring Porter will bid for a big festival double in the Grade1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown.
Leading British trainer Paul Nicholls has revealed Clan Des Obeaux, has been supplemented for the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup next Wednesday.
The dual King George VI Chase-winning nine-year-old posted a career-best performance when landing the Betway Bowl at Aintree by 26 lengths and could form part of a terrific field for the Grade 1 ran over 3m½f, the feature race on the second day of Punchestown’s five-day festival.
Among the other equine star names entered for the race are the winners of the last three Cheltenham Gold Cups in Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Indo (2021) and Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo (2019 and 2020).
Kemboy, Melon and Ryanair Chase winner Allaho complete a four-strong entry for Mullins with Fakir D’Oudairies, The Storyteller and Tiger Roll also in contention for honours.