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  • Writer's pictureHenry de Bromhead Racing

Slade Steel rallies strongly for supreme Cheltenham success

was an impressive winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle as the 2024 Cheltenham Festival got under way.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, the 7-2 chance travelled in the middle of the field and stalked the leaders before mounting a challenge on the turn for home.

Then he began to pick off the horses ahead of him and jumped into the lead before accelerating again up the hill when strongly challenged by Mystical Power taking top honours by a length and a half.

“I’m delighted with him, Rachael gave him a super ride and fair play to the Robcour team – they said Ballyburn has beaten us twice and we need to just avoid him, so that’s what we did and it’s worked out really well for us,” said De Bromhead.

“It’s lovely to see young horses like him coming through, we’re very fortunate the support we get from everyone and thankfully we get the odd result.

“Cheltenham is an amazing, special place. We’ve had a lot of luck here and it’s a cliche, but it’s our Olympics and we’re lucky to be able to take part.

“You definitely breathe a sigh of relief (after having a winner). We’ve never won the Supreme before so I don’t know this feeling, but it’s good.

“When you’ve had one winner you want two, but we’re delighted to get one. He was one of our big hopes coming here and it’s great for the team.”

He added: “He has a high cruising speed, definitely. He just jumped a little bit slow today.

“He can be a bit lairy in front, so I’d say Rachael wouldn’t have minded being joined after the last. He looked to be going so well going to the last there was hope that it could happen (fight back on the run-in), I’m not saying I knew it would happen but there was hope he would get back.”

Blackmore – who in 2021 became the first woman to be crowned top rider at the Festival – said: “It’s unbelievable, I obviously love this place and it’s just amazing to be coming here, riding these brilliant horses. Henry trains them every year to come here and the way he does it is incredible.”

She added: “It’s what every jockey wants if they’re riding in the Supreme, to get that done. I knew I had a really good chance coming into the race and you’re just thankful that it’s happened.

He’s a really tough horse, I think he’s got a massive future. He battled back well after the last and I think he won with a little bit in hand as well.

“I really was happy about running over two miles, especially after riding him in Leopardstown the last day.

“Prior to that, I maybe wouldn’t have been as confident, but the last day he jumped much sharper and travelled really well beside Ballyburn – he did things that suggested he could be 100 per cent in a two-mile race and I suppose with the ground going the way it has, that was a help as well.

“He tanked me down between the first and second, but then he relaxed and was relaxed for the rest of the race. He’s a dream ride really and very straightforward.

“I was headed after the last but I knew after two strides I was going to get there again. A lot can change between the last hurdle and the line here.

“I think the sky’s the limit for him. He’s just a very talented horse and he could be back here on the Friday (for the Gold Cup) some day, you never know.”

Mystical Power’s trainer Willie Mullins said: “He looked like he had come to win the race, but the winner just outstayed him. I’d say the winner was probably idling when he hit the front.

“It’s exciting that he was able to run so well on that ground, he will be much better on a better surface, we think. He’s come a hell of a long way since he made his debut in Ballinrobe.”

Mullins was also responsible for unplaced 11-4 favourite Tullyhill and added: “Tullyhill was disappointing. Paul (Townend) wasn’t happy with him from halfway, even going down to the start he wasn’t the usual Tullyhill.

“Asian Master ran a great race and he gave young Thomas Costello a great spin and he gave him every chance to win, I was very happy with him and Supersundae also ran well.

“You’d obviously like to get number one on the board sooner rather than later, but it’s great for Henry and great for Robcour.”

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