Henry De Bromhead Profile
|Name||Henry De Bromhead|
|Born||Oct 28, 1972|
Henry De Bromhead has come a long way from studying to be an accountant. The Irish handler and Grand National winner is now one of the most successful trainers on the National Hunt circuit.
No racehorse trainer had a better 2021 than Henry De Bromhead, the Irishman dominating the Cheltenham Festival and winning the Aintree Grand National.
His jockey, Rachel Blackmore, who steered Minella Times to Grand National glory, has become the superstar of the jumps scene and typifies the class of the De Bromhead operation.
Following on in the training game from his father Harry, Henry De Bromhead's stable revolves around quality not quantity, nurturing such supreme animals as eight time Grade 1 winner Sizing Europe and the marvellous mare Honeysuckle, who took the 2021 Champion Hurdle in fine style.
He is the first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup in the same year.
The early years
The De Bromhead racing name was, for many years, associated with Henry's father Harry who was himself a trainer. Henry was at Cheltenham as a young man in 1993, when his father's horse Fissure Seal won the American Express Gold Card Handicap Hurdle Final.
Fissure Seal, sent from the De Bromhead stable in Knockeen, County Waterford, bolted up at 14/1 under Charlie Swan and inspired Henry to go into training himself.
After a period of studying to be an accountant, De Bromhead began a long education in the business of training horses, starting out at the Kilsheelan Stud of the Irish racing giants Coolmore.
He also spent time under the tutelage of Robert and Sally Alner and as assistant to Sir Mark Prescott in Newmarket.
A period of illness for his father meant that Henry De Bromhead was required to return to Ireland to keep the family racing operation going and a new career was about to begin.
De Bromhead took out his trainers' licence in 2000 and the novice handler was fortunate enough to have a winner on his first day in the job.
Fidalus romped home at 10/1 at Tramore but the fledgling trainer was savvy enough to know his career wouldn't be all plain sailing.
In both the 2002/3 and 2003/4 National Hunt seasons, the De Bromhead yard registered only three winners as Henry struggled to assert himself in the competitive Irish game.
De Bromhead did pick up some moderate prizes with Whatareyouhaving at Gowran Park and Cork but needed that "next level" horse to kick things up a gear and one was soon to arrive in Sizing Europe.
Legend has it that De Bromhead's adventure with the superb Sizing Europe came after a lunch with coal mining entrepreneur Alan Potts. Mr and Mrs Potts had a keen eye for bloodstock and decided to follow up lunch with the purchase of 14 horses, one being Sizing Europe.
Little did they know that Potts had purchased a game thoroughbred who would win multiple Grade 1 races.
Sizing Europe's first Grade 1 win came at Leopardstown in the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle, beating Hardy Eustace and earning connections â‚¬100,000.
Yet, De Bromhead needed a winner at the Cheltenham Festival to be judged as a trainer of merit.
Sizing Europe had been favourite for the 2008 Champion Hurdle but trailed home in 14th leaving De Bromhead desperate for a first Cheltenham success.
He got that in 2010 when Sizing Europe returned over fences to take the Irish Independent Arkle from Somersby in second.
The Cheltenham win put De Bromhead on the racing map and Sizing Europe went onto further success in the 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Tingle Creek as part of his eight Grade 1 victories.
"They always say you need a Saturday horse for recognition. He had a massive impact on my career and our life in general. He gave us all the exposure any stable needs when trying to get going" De Bromhead told theownerbreeder.com of Sizing Europe's impact.
Changing owners & further success
Sizing Europe was far from De Bromhead's only decent horse and the trainer enjoyed further success with the Potts owned Sizing Rio, Sizing Australia, Shanahan's Turn and Sizing Granite.
However, in 2016 it was announced that Alan Potts would be removing his dozen horses from the De Bromhead yard and spreading them around several other Irish trainers. This included the star Sizing John and came as a tremendous blow for the De Bromhead operation.
But De Bromhead had seen his father go through tough times and was buoyed by the support of the Gigginstown House Stud and owner Roger Brookhouse who topped up the number of horses in the stable.
De Bromhead was able to build on his reputation as a deadly big-race specialist with Special Tiara claiming a gleaming win in the 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Notable winners for Gigginstown include Petit Mouchoir in the 2017 BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, and Balko De Flos in the 2018 Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.
2018 was also the year a certain Rachael Blackmore claimed a mares novice hurdle at Thurles on an up and coming horse called Honeysuckle.
Rachael Blackmore & Cheltenham 2021
It was in a taxi that Eddie O'Leary of Gigginstown suggested a promising female rider called Rachael Blackmore to De Bromhead, who was after a stable jockey.
It's doubtful that either could have imagined Blackmore's blistering impact on the Cheltenham Festival 2021 in which she won six races, four for De Bromhead and took the Leading Jockey crown, a first for a female.
Standout for De Bromhead and Blackmore was the Champion Hurdle win for the mare Honeysuckle, the victory epitomising girl power and a combination of sheer class.
Blackmore's wins for De Bromhead on Bob Olinger, Tellmesomethingirl and Quilxios were not too shabby either, announcing both rider and trainer as serious talents at the top level of racing.
De Bromhead even claimed a phenomenal one-two in the Gold Cup with Minella Indo winning under Jack Kennedy and Blackmore in second on A Plus Tard.
The 2021 Grand National
Not that De Bromhead had stopped at Cheltenham, sending his superstar jockey Rachael Blackmore to Aintree for the biggest test of them all.
The bookies priced her horse Minella Times at 11-1 in this race of true jeopardy with the potential that her and De Bromhead's Cheltenham exertions had taken their toll.
Blackmore, characteristically didn't get the script and sent her JP McManus owned mount on a buccaneering display of jumping that overwhelmed her 39 opponents and made history in the sport.
Just weeks after dominating Cheltenham, De Bromhead had taken the race "the world stops to watch" and his jockey had become the first female National champion.
Not bad for a trainer who could have been an accountant and a jockey who wanted to be a vet. The innate horsemanship and hard work of Blackmore and De Bromhead had paid dividends.
Henry De Bromhead has a wife named Heather and three children called Mia, Jack and Georgia.
Away from racing, he enjoys seeing his children ride in pony club events and watching rugby,
De Bromhead has a colourful ancestry, which apparently features a secretary to Marie Antoinette and a certain Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead VC who fought in the Battle Of Rorke's Drift.