“A Plus Tard is back”: De Bromhead takes positives from the defending champion’s unlucky Gold Cup run.
Despite being pulled up in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, Henry de Bromhead insists that A Plus Tard demonstrated that he was “back” and blames the interference from two fallers for costing him a better chance to defend his crown.
The winner from last year was a 4-1 shot when he was sent off. He was in the back and seemed to be going well until he was severely hampered in a fight at the 17th fence. Ahoy Senor tumbled, bringing down Sounds Russian in A Plus Tard’s path. Having lost his situation, the nine-year-old was pulled up by Rachael Blackmore before the third-last.
However, De Bromhead benefited from the performance. An Or more Tard had not been seen since floundering in the Betfair Pursue at Haydock in November and could now go to Aintree in about a month to challenge the Bowl.
The trainer said: “I thought he was very unlucky. He had to jump two horses sadly and that was it. Rachael said she was really happy with him at the time, tracking Paul [Townend on Galopin Des Champs], and all was good. But it’s the luck of the draw.
“I’m happy. He looks back now and it was just unlucky. He needs to go left-handed, so I suppose maybe Aintree [is an option]. Rachael did the right thing. She pulled him up as she knew he wouldn’t win.”
The coach’s other previous champ Minella Indo was pulled up with a circuit to go and De Bromhead faulted the race start for demolishing his opportunity. Nico de Boinville, a late replacement for Mark Walsh, was reportedly furious when the ten-year-old had to be pushed along when trailing at the start.
“Nico was livid with the start. He said it shouldn’t [have started],” De Bromhead said. “We’re really annoyed by that. I think his chance was gone then. We’ll get him home and see [what to do next].”
After the Gold Cup, all six of the horses that didn’t finish were fine, including Hewick, who fell hard at the second turn. The Galway Plate and American Terrific Public champ was becoming dull of dispute while descending.
Jockey Jordan Gainford said: “It was unbelievable. He’s a tough horse. Even when Derek [Fox, jockey of Ahoy Senor] fell, I was safe away. He was just unlucky on his landing at the second-last. He ran a cracker and I’m delighted with him.”
Before coming down six from home, Ahoy Senor jockey Derek Fox was pleased with how his mount was traveling ahead.
Fox said: “He was travelling nicely until it happened but hopefully he’ll be okay for another day.”
Sean Quinlan, who was brought down on Sounds Russian, said: “I was probably in top gear the whole way. His jumping was keeping him in it, but he was probably getting a little bit tired when he got brought down.”