A Plus Tard team perplexed after Betfair disappointment

Sun 20 Nov 2022

Henry de Bromhead was at a loss to to explain what he described as a performance that was “too bad to be true” from his Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard in defence of his Betfair Chase crown at Haydock.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned eight-year-old was imperious in winning on Merseyside 12 months ago, sauntering 22 lengths clear under Rachael Blackmore.

It was a similar story at Cheltenham in March as A Plus Tard sprinted up the hill to mark himself down as the clear king of the division.

He was unsurprisingly all the rage for his eagerly-awaited return to action as the 1-2 favourite, but it was clear from a relatively early stage that it was not going to be plain sailing.

Eight months on from becoming the first female rider to win the Gold Cup, Blackmore settled A Plus Tard at the rear of the five-runner field, but had started to ask questions of her mount leaving the back straight.

He was already in trouble when a slow leap at the fourth fence from home sealed his fate, with Blackmore quickly admitting defeat and pulling up before the next obstacle.

“I was never that happy, to be honest,” she said afterwards.

“When I did decide we were going to pull up, he stopped very quickly under me – he was very easy to pull up

“He seems fine trotting back, but I was never that happy throughout the race.”

Asked whether she felt the soft ground was a factor, Blackmore added: “Possibly, but he’s a very classy horse and I was hoping that wouldn’t have been an issue that would make him pull up.”

De Bromhead was similarly perplexed and will give A Plus Tard a full check up on his return to Ireland.

“It was obviously too bad to be true. That’s the best thing to say I think for the moment,” said the County Waterford handler.

“We’ll get him home and see. He was in mighty form coming over, but he looked laboured didn’t he?

“Maybe the ground (was a factor), but I don’t want to make excuses. It was too bad to be true and that’s it.

“He seems fine, but we’ll scope him and check him. We can’t say anything (about future plans), we need to go through everything.

“It was very unlike him.”

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