Kettle Brings Cheltenham To The Boil For De Bromhead

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Henry de Bromhead and Aidan Coleman with the Champion Chase winner Put The Kettle On | racingfotos.com

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Henry de Bromhead's magical week continued at Cheltenham when Put The Kettle On (Ire) (Stowaway {Ire}) added victory in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase to the success of Honeysuckle (GB) (Sulamani {Ire}) and Rachael Blackmore in Tuesday's G1 Champion Hurdle. 

Both winners created a piece of National Hunt history, with Put The Kettle On becoming the first mare to win the Champion Chase, while Blackmore was the first woman to ride the winner of the Champion Hurdle. Notably, both mares had triumphed at the previous year's Festival, in the G1 Arkle Novices' Chase and G1 Close Brother Mares' Hurdle respectively.

Aidan Coleman was in the saddle for Put The kettle On's battling win, but Blackmore further embellished her own and de Bromhead's Cheltenham record with victory in the opening race of the day, the G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, on favourite Bob Olinger (Ire) (Sholokhov {Ire}). And in a dominant front-running ride which drew plenty of praise, she guided Sir Gerhard (Ire) (Jeremy) to victory in the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the close of play. Remarkably, Sir Gerhard, who recently moved from the stable of Gordon Elliott to Willie Mullins, was the third consecutive winner of the bumper for Cheveley Park Stud following Envoi Allen (Fr) (Muhtathir {GB}), who is odds-on favourite for Thursday's G1 Marsh Novices' Chase, and Ferny Hollow (Ire) (Westerner {GB}). What goes up usually comes down, however, and amid the glory of the day, Blackmore also took three falls from which she emerged thankfully unscathed.

Henry de Bromhead, who first won the Champion Chase a decade ago with Sizing Europe (Ire) and then again in 2017 with Special Tiara (GB), admitted that his latest winner of the race, who is owned by the One For Luck Racing Syndicate, has a touch of madness to match her tenacity.

He said, “She's an incredible mare. I'm delighted for the Dermodys and the syndicate. Mary Dermody is the matriarch of it and it's just brilliant. Stuff you dream about! She's so tough and Aidan was just brilliant on her. He really asked at the last three fences, and it was probably the winning of the race.”

De Bromhead added, “A couple of weeks ago she was a bit quiet and we freshened her up as much as we could, and she seemed much better, but she arrived here and was back to what we expected her to be doing; just crazy. She's mad. I have to say, everyone at home but especially Andrea, who looks after her and puts up with her antics every day, it will be very special for her. She's just a bit crackers the whole time, to be honest, she's just quite wild, but a real character.”

Now seven, Put The Kettle On, for all her high jinks, is also highly consistent. The winner of nine of her 16 races, and in the first three for another five, she has a particular liking for jump racing's HQ and has won on all four of her appearances at Cheltenham. 

In a performance that was as brave as it was bold, Put The Kettle On was prominent throughout the two-mile contest, with the only wobble coming at the third-last fence. Having lunged at it, she managed to stay on her feet and led a packed field turning into the straight, with the Willie Mullins-trained odds-on favourite Chacun Pour Soi (Fr) (Policy Maker {Ire}) edging up her inner on the rail to grab the lead towards the the last. His challenge was short-lived, however, as the mare fought back up the hill and Nube Negra (Spa) (Dink {Fr}), finally being able to get a clear run, battled home for an unlucky second as Chacun Pour Soi faded into third.

“How she improves for being here,” said de Bromhead. “[In] mid-February I was probably leaning towards the mares' chase, and then I spoke to the owners and we looked at the stats of the Arkle winners, which seemed ridiculous, and it's her trip and she loves the Old Course, so we thought we'd give it a lash and see.”

Aidan Coleman paid tribute to his mount, adding, “Her tenacity and attitude is something to behold. It is a privilege to be associated with her. I've ridden her in four races and when she came over in November I rode her out a couple of times.

“She doesn't give you anything easy but when you are on her side you couldn't have a more willing partner. I think if you put someone else on her, her guts would still be there and I think she would win without me but I'm going to stay on her.”

He continued, “These championship races are the ones you grow up watching. If you are lucky to ride in them it's fantastic and if you win one it's even better.”

Put The Kettle On's victory followed the extraordinary tape-to-post victory of 33/1 shot Heaven Help Us (Ire) (Yeats {Ire}) for trainer/breeder Paul Hennessy in the G3 Coral Cup. The two mares provided some respite for the bookmakers following the victories of odds-on favourites in the first races of the day.

While Bob Olinger got the better of the Willie Mullins trainee Gaillard Du Mesnil (Fr) (Saint Des Saints {Fr}) in the opener, Mullins gained his revenge in the G1 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase with the 1/4 favourite Monkfish (Ire). The giant chestnut gelding provided the first half of a Grade 1 double for his late sire Stowaway (Ire) and, though not as imperious in victory as his fans may have expected, he extended his winning streak to seven races stretching back to December 2019, including last year's G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. The 7-year-old Monkfish is now as short as 9/2 for next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Tiger Provides The Missing Roar

In a normal year, Tiger Roll (Ire) (Authorized {Ire}) winning at the Cheltenham Festival for the fifth time should be the feelgood result of the week. On an equine level it is. Now 11, the little horse bred for the Flat first came to the Festival as a 4-year-old and won the G1 Triumph Hurdle for Gigginstown House Stud on only the third start of his life. In the intervening years he has also won the G2 National Hunt Chase as well as three Glefarclas Cross Country Chases in seven appearances at Cheltenham in March, not to mention clinching two Grand Nationals.

To widespread regret, two weeks ago his trainer Gordon Elliott was banned for six months for bringing the sport into disrepute when a photograph emerged on social media of him sitting astride the deceased horse Morgan (Ire), who won four races in the same colours as Tiger Roll.

Last year Tiger Roll was denied the chance to attempt to equal Red Rum's record of three Grand National wins when the Aintree meeting was lost in the Covid-enforced shutdown of racing in Britain for two months. In his three previous starts this season he has appeared lacklustre and, just days before Elliott's licence was suspended by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, Tiger Roll's owner Michael O'Leary announced that he would be withdrawn from this year's Grand National citing an unfair weight burden allocated by the British handicapper.

Back at Cheltenham which, as a number of results so far this week underline is a track where the saying 'horses for courses' applies like no other, Tiger Roll was back to his old self in the quirkiest race of the week. Over three miles and six furlongs, skipping over banks, and hopping a variety of 32 obstacles on the twisting course, he showed every bit of his old zest to post an 18-length victory over last year's winner and the sole French-trained runner of the week, Easysland (Fr) (Gentlewave {Ire}). 

Keith Donoghue, who has been aboard Tiger Roll for all three of his cross-country wins at the Festival, said, “He really came alive. We said we'd change the tactics with him today—we'd jump him out, take a lead, sit him second or third and make up his mind today. He came alive and he jumped brilliantly. I was in control of the race after halfway; he was just in his comfort zone, and when Tiger comes alive like that, you don't take him back.”

He added, “He's a very, very good horse, but is it the cross-country jumps that make the best of him? I'm not sure he'd be as good over park fences or hurdles. We don't know, but we think there's something about the cross-country fences that sparks him up, and obviously the National fences do the same. When Tiger Roll is on a going day, it takes a very good horse to beat him.”

What should have been one of the happiest days of Elliott's career, bringing this hugely popular jumper back to peak form for his fifth Festival victory, instead comes during a period of deep shame for the trainer. Tiger Roll's latest win will go down in the name of Denise Foster, who has temporarily taken over the licence at Elliott's Cullentra House stable, as did Tuesday's victory of Black Tears (GB) (Jeremy) in the G1 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle. 

Tiger Roll, however, remains a horse for the people, and truly one for the ages. 

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