Henry de Bromhead is hopeful that the talented Dromahane point winner Eklat de Rire can make his presence felt in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase on Day Two of The Festival™ supporting WellChild at Cheltenham.
The seven-year-old has yet to put a foot wrong in two starts over fences and impressed when taking Grade Three honours on his most recent start at Naas in January.
Eklat de Rire is an 8-1 chance for the Grade One contest over three miles and half a furlong, and looks the main contender to the odds-on favourite and fellow point-to-point graduate Monkfish as far as the market is concerned.
De Bromhead is hopeful of giving Monkfish a serious test at The Festival. He said: “He’s two from two so far and is lovely. He’s done nothing wrong this year, and he won his Grade Three the other day very impressively, so he goes for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
“He jumps his fences really well, touch wood, and we’ll find out how good he is there and see if we can give Monkfish a race. (Monkfish) has obviously been super impressive, but our lad has been very good as well, so we’ll see on the day. My one concern would be if it’s very good ground, so some rain would be welcome.”
De Bromhead has a particularly strong squad for this year’s Festival, and is looking forward to the week.
Asked if his team for Cheltenham is his strongest ever, he replied: “I’d say it would have to be up there, but we’ll see how we go. I’ve had odds-on shots beaten and 50-1 winners here, so we feel very lucky with the horses we have and are bringing and we’ll see how it all unfolds.”
The trainer also ran through the rest of his potential Festival runners and assessed their chances:
Ballyadam and Champagne Gold (Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle)
“I would imagine we’re leaning towards the Supreme with Ballyadam, but we’ll keep our options open. We also have Champagne Gold but I’m not sure yet – we haven’t firmed up on anything yet.
Bob Olinger (Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle)
“I’d be leaning towards the Ballymore with Bob Olinger, but we haven’t discussed it with his owners yet. I would imagine that’s the race we’re learning towards. He seems great and we’re delighted with him, and hopefully Cheltenham will suit.
"He’s had three runs and he won his Grade One at Naas – the Lawlor’s is a really good race – so I didn’t feel any need to go to the Dublin Festival with him. He’s a good moving horse and works well on good-ish ground, so hopefully he should be fine (if the ground came up quicker).”
Plan Of Attack (Ultima Handicap Chase and Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup)
“We’re not sure about him yet and he might stay here. We want to go wherever we might get a bit of good ground, so he might stay here for the Leinster National at Naas instead.”
Minella Melody (Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle)
“The Mares’ Hurdle is the plan at the moment. She’s in great form and worked well yesterday. She’s a lovely mare and has just been unfortunate to have met Concertista twice this year, but we’re hoping for a good run.”
Telmesomethinggirl (Coral Cup and Parnell Properties Mares' Novices' Hurdle)
“I’d say we’re learning towards the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (over the Coral Cup). She had a lovely run at Leopardstown on her first run back after a break, and she’s freshened up really well. I would guess her name is after what you think it is – but we bought her from a point to point so I’m not entirely sure who named her!”
Chris’s Dream (Ryanair Chase)
“He was a bit unfortunate to be just chinned at Down Royal in the Champion Chase by The Storyteller, but he’s great and I think we’ll have a go in the Ryanair. He’s done really well and has been brilliant for us, and I think he could run well.”