Cheltenham Festival

'A Plus Tard is back' - De Bromhead takes positives from unlucky Gold Cup run from defending champion

A PLUS TARD ridden by Rachael Blackmore wins the BOODLES CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP CHASE (GRADE 1) at CHELTENHAM 18/3/22Photograph by Grossick Racing Photography 0771 046 1723
A Plus Tard: was encouraging despite pulling up in the Gold CupCredit: John Grossick (

Henry de Bromhead insists A Plus Tard proved he was “back” despite being pulled up in the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup and blamed the interference suffered from two fallers for costing him a better shot at defending his crown.

Last year's winner, sent off a 4-1 chance, was positioned in rear but appeared to be travelling well until he was severely hampered in a melee at the 17th fence. Ahoy Senor fell and brought down Sounds Russian in the path of A Plus Tard. Having lost his position, the nine-year-old was pulled up by Rachael Blackmore before the third-last. 

Yet De Bromhead took the positives from the performance. A Plus Tard had not been seen since flopping in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November and could now head to Aintree in four weeks to contest 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 trainer’s other former winner Minella Indo was pulled up with a circuit to go and De Bromhead blamed the race start for ruining his chance. The ten-year-old had to be pushed along when trailing at the start, leaving jockey Nico de Boinville – a late replacement for Mark Walsh – reportedly furious.

“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].”

All six of the horses who failed to finish in the Gold Cup were fine after the race including Hewick, who suffered a heavy fall at the second-last. The Galway Plate and American Grand National winner was fading out of contention when coming down.

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.”

Ahoy Senor’s jockey Derek Fox was happy with how his mount was travelling in front before coming down six from home. 

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.”

Read these next:

Epic Gold Cup lives up to expectations as Galopin Des Champs gallops to glory under brilliant Paul Townend 

'As brilliant a ride as I've ever seen in any horserace' - McCoy heaps praise on Townend 

How the 2023 Gold Cup unfolded at Cheltenham on Friday 

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James StevensWest Country correspondent
Published on 17 March 2023Last updated 19:23, 17 March 2023