Pierce Flynn, Park Hotel presents the January Waterford Sports Star Award to Henry de Bromhead. Included are 20 time Champion NH jockey AP McCoy and Kieran O’Connor, Adjudicator. Photo: Sean Byrne//Deise Sport
Just a matter of weeks after Thomas Barr was announced as the Park Hotel Waterford Sports Star Supreme Award Winner for 2016, the awards are back in action for a 27th year and this week the scheme’s 313th monthly award was presented to Knockeen horse trainer, Henry de Bromhead.
In so doing Henry was collecting his sixth monthly award which saw him draw level with David Casey and Tom Queally at the top of the leaderboard for Horse Racing winners.
The 2016/17 National Hunt season has been one to remember for the Waterford trainer. With almost two months of the season to go, Henry has already comfortably amassed his biggest ever tally of winners (over 60) for a season and is heading for €1.5 million in prize-money.
It has been a season of brilliant months but January was one of those never to be forgotten months as he saddled no less than 12 winners but it was the quality of the races that really stood out and this is why he was this week presented with the first Park Hotel Waterford Sports Star of the Month Award for 2017.
2017 couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Henry as had two doubles on New Year’s Day. Adreamstillalive and Champagne West obliged at his local track in Tramore, while at Fairyhouse Balko Des Flos and Montana Belle made it a dream start to the year.
In the following two weeks he added winners at Naas, Fairyhouse and Thurles before saddling another winner on the flat at Dundalk on January 20.
Then on January 26 he had a double on Thyestes Day at Gowran Park with Adreamstillalive and Champagne West in the Grade A feature race, the Thyestes Chase.
Two more big race wins followed on the final Sunday of the month when Henry landed another double (his fourth of the month) at Leopardstown and this time it was a pair of Grade Ones. Petit Mouchoir won the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, while Some Plan came home in front in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase. A month to treasure, that’s for sure.
At the presentation, Henry was presented with his award by Pierce Flynn, proprietor of the Park Hotel, who congratulated Henry on his wonderful achievements in the month of January and wished him well for Cheltenham and the remainder of the National Hunt season, while Kieran O’Connor spoke on behalf of the adjudicating panel and also congratulated Henry on his brilliant month and on winning his sixth Park Hotel award.
“Thanks very much, it’s great to win this award. It’s great to get recognition from within our county and I’m delighted for all the team at home as well, we’re delighted with it,” said a thrilled Henry de Bromhead.
“January was an incredible month when look back and see exactly what we did, I hadn’t really looked at it back, but now that you go through what we won it was incredible. The horses were flying, I’m lucky to have a great team working with me and it’s lovely to get the rewards when they come.”
Anyone that knows anything about Horse Racing will tell you that it’s a tough game and especially hard to succeed at the high end of the sport in Ireland and therefore it must give everyone involved in the team a huge boost when things are going well.
“Absolutely, everyone in the yard, all your owners, your suppliers, when things are going well it gives everybody a boost. It’s a big team effort and when things are going well it’s just brilliant.”
Without doubt one of the real highlights of Henry’s incredible January was that grade one double on the final Sunday of the month in Leopardstown and it’s one Henry won’t forget for a while.
“That was a phenomenal day. Petit Mouchoir was brilliant in the Irish Champion Hurdle, I was delighted with him and then Some Plan was really good in the Irish Arkle. He might have been a little fortunate but you have to jump round and who’s to say what would have happened after the last. Davy (Russell) gave him a great ride and it was a super day.
One of the stars of that January run for Henry was Champagne West who won the At The Races Listed Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day and then went on to give Henry his first win in the famous Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park three weeks later, a race that Henry’s dad Harry won as a trainer 25 years ago.
“Yeah he won the At The Races Chase at our local track in Tramore on New Year’s Day, a race I was lucky enough to win years ago when I started training and it was brilliant to win it again as it’s the feature race of the year at Tramore and it’s always a great day’s racing there. I love sending horses to Tramore and of course having winners there so it was great to win that and then to go on and win the Thyestes as well, another local race if you like, was just phenomenal.”
NEED A LOT OF LUCK
With just a week to go to the Cheltenham Festival these are anxious times for all trainers but despite likes of Valseur Lido and Identify Thief being ruled out of their trips to Prestbury Park due to injury, Henry will still bring his strongest ever team to the greatest racing festival of them all and not surprisingly he can’t wait.
“We’re hoping we’ll have 10 or 12 runners. We have a nice team of horses but we need a lot of luck between now and then to get them there in one piece and then we need a lot of luck when we’re there for them to run well and have chances of winning. It’s our Olympics and all the focus of the National Hunt season and it’s the place where we all want to perform at our very best and hopefully we can do just that.”
The same evening as Henry was in the Park Hotel to collect his sixth monthly award, he was also part of the Lismore GAA Cheltenham Preview Night which boasted a top class panel including the legendary AP McCoy and it was all, this year, to support Waterford Hospice, St. Carthage’s House Lismore and the St. Vincent de Paul who were the chosen charities of former jockey and long time MC of that event, Ken Whelan who is currently battling cancer.
“Ken is a top man. He was a great rider and he’s a great guy and we’re all behind him and help him through it the best we can,” concluded Henry de Bromhead.