Henry de Bromhead might have a name that sounds as though he’s a member of the British aristocracy but he was actually born in Knockeen in Ireland. A specialist in the world of National Hunt racing, there is barely a race of import that de Bromhead hasn’t trained the winner for, from the Gold Cup run during the Cheltenham Festival through to the Aintree Grand National.
He has trained some of the best-known jump racing horses of the modern era, such as Sizing John, Minella Times and A Plus Tard, working well but stable jockey Rachael Blackmore to not only win a host of big races but also smash the glass ceiling for female jockeys.
Born on the 28th of October in 1972, Henry de Bromhead worked with his father, Harry, at the family stables. In 2000 he took over the training from his dad, having spend part of his life learning the ropes from the likes of Robert and Sally Alter and Sir Mark Prescott. He also spent time working at Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary, seeing how the world’s largest breeding operation worked. Given the fact that his father owned a stables, it was always likely that he was going to end up entering the family business at some point, but perhaps not even the proudest of parents could imagine how successful he would become.
His first Grade 1 win as a trainer came thanks to Sizing Europe’s victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle in 2008, but that was just the beginning of his success. He has enjoyed countless successes during the week of the Cheltenham Festival, with 2021 and 2022 seeing horses that he had trained win both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup in both years. Add to that the fact that he’s won the likes of the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Grand National and you can see why he is considered to be one of the best horse racing trainers in work today. He is, though, a man touched by tragedy, with his son Jack dying after a horse in 2022, aged just 13.
There is barely a race that we would mention in the world of National Hunt racing that Henry de Bromhead has not trained the winner for, with everything from the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle through to the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase being on his list during the week of the Cheltenham Festival. He has also won numerous races in his native Ireland. Here are some of the biggest events he’s been in the Winners’ Enclosure for at least once:
- Grand National
- Cheltenham Gold Cup
- Queen Mother Champion Chase
- Champion Hurdle
- Ryanair Chase
- Triumph Hurdle
- Fighting Fifth Hurdle
- Tingle Creek Chase
- Irish Champion Hurdle
- Liverpool Hurdle
When you’re a trainer as talented as Henry de Bromhead, owners want to work with you. As a result, it isn’t all that surprising that some of the best horses in the business have been improved thanks to the steering hand of the Irishman. Names like Honeysuckle, Special Tiara and Envoi Allen will be known to lovers of the National Hunt, as will the likes of A Plus Tard and Bob Olinger. He is a trainer that knows how to get the best out of the horses that he works with. The following are some top examples:
Trainers will often remember the horses that helped them to reach certain milestones, which is why Henry de Bromhead probably has a miniature stature of Sizing Europe somewhere in his house. The horse won the first Grade 1 event of de Bromhead’s career when he enjoyed victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle in 2008, but he also went on to numerous other big wins in the years that followed. A bay gelding with a white star and white socks on his hind feet, Sizing Europe is perhaps best known for winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2011. He finished his career with six Grade 1 wins over fences, which is a decent return.
Speaking of remembering horses that allow you to reach certain milestones, Henry de Bromhead is unlikely to forget the first time that he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Bred in Ireland, Minella Indo was sired by Beat Hollow and began his career running in amateur point-to-point events. Slowly but surely de Bromhead took him on a journey over hurdles and then fences, getting him ready to take on the biggest jumps in the business. He began the 2021 Gold Cup with a Starting Price of 9/1, taking the lead at the final turn and holding off the challenge of stablemate A Plus Tard to give de Bromhead a 1-2 in the Gold Cup.
Bought by John Nallen at the same time as Minella Indo and nurtured on his farm in Lavelly, Minella Times made history in 2021 and cemented a phenomenal year for Henry de Bromhead when he won the Grand National. The history part of proceedings came from the fact that he was the first horse ridden by a female jockey to win the ‘World’s Greatest Steeplechase’, carrying de Bromhead’s stable jockey, Rachael Blackmore, across the line at Aintree. He was retired from racing in 2023 as he was being prepared to re-enter the Grand National, suffering a shoulder injury that also saw him drop out of the race.