De Bromhead Keen on Irish Guineas For Star Girls Aalmal

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Henry de Bromhead | Racingfotos

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The only man in history to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season, Henry de Bromhead is not content on tightening his grip on the major jumps races and is now taking aim at the Irish 1,000 Guineas with Star Girls Aalmal (Ire) (Elzaam {Aus}). 

De Bromhead signed off on another memorable National Hunt season at Punchestown last month by sending out Honeysuckle (GB) (Sulamani {Ire}) to win her 12th Grade 1 and extend her unbeaten record to 16.

As the Flat arm of the operation grows, so too are the hopes of snaring big-race prizes on the level, and de Bromhead thinks Star Girls Aalmal is more than entitled to a crack at Classic glory at the Curragh on May 22. 

Bought out of the Goffs Online Sale in November 2020 for just €8,000 by John Phelan, who remains a part-owner, Star Girls Aalmal has gone from strength to strength in just three starts for de Bromhead.

After winning a barrier trial at Dundalk last autumn, she made her debut in a Listed race at the track in October, finishing a respectable sixth, but has won her two starts since, including on reappearance at Gowran Park in April.

Despite the fact that Star Girls Aalmal has yet to race beyond seven furlongs, de Bromhead is hopeful that his bargain buy will see out the Guineas trip at the Curragh and is quietly hopeful of a big performance. 

He said, “You'd hope so [of her getting the mile]. She's never run over the mile but she seems to hit the line well so we'll see. It's a bit of fun and it's great to have one like her. No matter what, she is a very good filly and we're delighted to have her. I know John and his partners are really excited about the day and I feel quite lucky to be a part of it all.”

De Bromhead, who famously spent time with Sir Mark Prescott before taking out his licence, sent out one winner from 44 runners on the Flat in 2019. Not only have the numbers risen in recent seasons, but so too has the quality, with the Waterford-based trainer sending out four winners from 88 runners last year and picking up just shy of €200,000 in prize-money.

Speaking about how the Flat string has evolved in a relatively short space of time, de Bromhead said, “It's something we said that we would try a few years ago and it has developed. It's a small part of our operation but it's always a pleasure training nice horses, be it jumpers or Flat horses. “We've been lucky to come across some nice horses and we've sold a few as well. It's been interesting.”

Star Girls Aalmal has proven to be a shrewd acquisition by her owner and that share price may not have reached its ceiling just yet.

De Bromhead explained, “John picked her out on pedigree. He had spotted that her half-sister Create Belief had just finished second in a maiden the week before this filly went through the ring. He suggested her to me and there wasn't much to it after that.”

He added, “I looked at her video online and she looked to be correct and had a nice head so we said we'd have a go. Obviously Create Belief went on to win at Royal Ascot and our filly always worked nicely. 

“She won her barrier trial at Dundalk and Chris Hayes said that he really liked her. The maidens are so hot in Ireland, we said we'd start her off in a Listed race at Dundalk, thinking that if we could nick a bit of black-type, it wouldn't do her any harm. Sadly that didn't happen but she ran well and Chris really liked her.”

As well as having a handful of juveniles to work with, de Bromhead has a number of older horses to look forward to on the Flat this season, headed by Jason The Militant (Ire) (Sans Frontieres {Ire}). 

De Bromhead said, “He is very dependent on soft ground. He's a good horse and we'll get him out whenever there's a good ease in the ground. 

“We have a few 2-year-olds but they have only just come in to me and we'll tip away with them. Hopefully there's a couple of nice ones in there.”

He added, “It's a fun thing to do and, while we have the infrastructure there, it's a good thing to do when things go quiet on the jumping side. It's also a good opportunity to trade. We've been fortunate to sell a lot of nice horses as well.”

Honeysuckle's exploits over jumps have led some people to draw comparisons to what Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Aus}) and even Black Caviar (Aus) (Bel Esprit {Aus}) achieved on the Flat. Season after season, she gets the job done, and she now heads off on her summer holidays unbeaten in 16 starts after trouncing her Punchestown Champion Hurdle rivals. 

Recapping what was another exemplary campaign with the most popular jumps horse in training, de Bromhead revealed that connections intend to race the reigning Champion Hurdler on next term. 

He said, “It's just been a fairytale with Honeysuckle and I feel incredibly lucky to be involved with her. At this stage, you want her to put in a clear round when she races and to put her best foot forward. We try and enjoy it as much as we can but it's pretty nerve-wracking watching her. 

“She's an incredible mare and, touch wood, one of her main attributes is that she can turn up and produce the goods every day she goes racing. Kenny [Alexander, owner] and Peter [Molony, racing manager] are very patient and there's never any pressure from them at all. 

“But it's testimony to her that she can turn up and, in fairness to her, she has overcome a few things before some big races that some horses wouldn't. She still goes out and wins no matter what, so you have to have a huge amount of respect for her.”

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