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A Plus Tard made new Gold Cup favourite after 22-length Betfair Chase rout

A Plus Tard jumps the final fence on the way to a devastating win in the Betfair Chase
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Saturday: Betfair Chase, Haydock

On a day when one of Kauto Star's many records was under threat, A Plus Tard produced a performance worthy of the legendary four-time Betfair Chase winner as he became the first Irish runner to plunder the opening Grade 1 of the British season.

While the origin of the winner of Haydock's showpiece contest was different, there was the familiar sight of Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore smiling broadly after a major race in Britain.

They conquered Cheltenham, they made history in the Grand National and in this most remarkable of years, they triumphed on new territory here.

Such was A Plus Tard's superiority in demolishing his rivals by 22 lengths, he was cut to 7-2 favourite (from 7) for the Cheltenham Gold Cup by Paddy Power and Betfair.

De Bromhead is still coming to terms with saddling the winners of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Gold Cup and Grand National in the spring.

Even though his stable is bursting at the seams with superstars, how could he repeat what was viewed as the impossible? This was the perfect way to start.

A Plus Tard, winner of the Savills Chase before finishing second to stablemate Minella Indo in the Gold Cup, was sent over from County Waterford to start his season on these shores for the first time.

De Bromhead had not previously had a runner over jumps at Haydock and Blackmore had not ridden here before. They got a sighter of the course in April as the Irish staff and horses were based here during the Grand National meeting, but that was it.

None of that mattered, though, as A Plus Tard put a huge gap back to runner-up Royale Pagaille, with Chatham Street Lad and Clondaw Castle the only others to complete.

"It was fantastic, Rachael was brilliant and so was A Plus Tard," beamed De Bromhead. "With his preference for a left-handed track, it just seemed a good race to go for as I was sick of getting beaten in the Fortria in the last two seasons over two miles. He has so much class. He's only a seven-year-old and he's achieved a hell of a lot for a horse his age. It's a fantastic race and we're very lucky to win it."

Rachael Blackmore poses with A Plus Tard after the pair's Betfair Chase win

Blackmore, returning to the north west having become the first female jockey to win the Grand National on Minella Times in April, had her mount settled in midfield before making inroads on the leaders turning for home.

A Plus Tard was travelling supremely well and having produced a majestic leap at the third-last, he surged clear of his rivals as Bristol De Mai, seeking a record-equalling fourth win in the race, started to toil before being pulled up before two out.  

Blackmore was thrilled to carve out another memorable occasion on the horse who provided her with her first Cheltenham Festival success.

A Plus Tard wins the Betfair Chase by 22 lengths

"He's such a classy horse and he couldn't have done it any better," she said. "He jumped fantastically and felt superb. I was happy everywhere and it's not often they're that straightforward, but it's very enjoyable when they are. 

"It's not often you get to ride a Grade 1 winner in that kind of fashion. You only need to look back at what he's done. He's a brilliant horse who's very special to me.

"Bristol maybe didn't jump as well as he can in front of me at times, but he's a fantastic horse as well and we knew he wouldn't be easy to beat around here.

"A Plus Tard's got gears, he stays, he jumps really well. He's got a very nice style of running, cruising along without doing too much there. Henry's horses are in fantastic form and it's great to be part of the team."

Members can watch the replay here

The season has only just begun but the Irish have picked up where they left off, led by the man who did most of the damage last term.

When pressed on Ireland's continuing dominance, De Bromhead said: "What can I say. This was an ideal race for the horse and we had to have a go. It's brilliant for Cheveley [Park] and the Thompsons are based here, and it's fantastic they're here today. After about the tenth person saying no Irish horse had won it before, I started to wonder why we came over at all."

De Bromhead added that A Plus Tard is set to defend his Savills Chase crown next month before going back to Cheltenham in March.

As for the trainer, who saw the exciting Bob Olinger get his chase career off to a winning start at Gowran Park earlier in the day, more raids on Britain are in the pipeline with Eklat De Rire and Minella Indo in the reckoning for the Ladbrokes Trophy and King George respectively. 

On this evidence, we're in for yet another treat.

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He's only a seven-year-old and he's achieved a hell of a lot for a horse his age
E.W. Terms