De Bromhead unsurprised by Sizing John’s Cheltenham glory

Trainer says he is taking ‘a lot of positives’ from horse he trained until last summer

Henry De Bromhead has said he is taking "a lot of positives" from Sizing John's Cheltenham Gold Cup success and added that he is not surprised the horse he used to train until last summer has emerged as such a strong stayer.

Both Sizing John and last week's Coral Cup winner Supasundae were transferred to Jessica Harrington by owners Alan and Ann Potts after their lengthy relationship with De Bromhead came to an abrupt end last summer.

Sizing John ran 13 times for De Bromhead, winning four times, including a Grade One hurdle, but had become best known for being placed on half a dozen occasions behind Douvan over two miles.

The Co Waterford trainer ran Sizing John beyond two miles just once, when Sizing John finished third in Aintree’s Manifesto Chase last April.


After finishing runner-up to Douvan at Christmas in his first run for Harrington, Sizing John was upped in trip, winning the Kinloch Brae at Thurles before landing the Irish Gold Cup at three miles and last Friday scoring in steeplechasing’s “blue riband” over an extended three and a quarter miles.

On Sunday, De Bromhead congratulated the Potts, Harrington and the Gold Cup-winning rider, Robbie Power, and was philosophical about the Gold Cup outcome in which his own hope, Champagne West, finished ninth.


"Obviously you're disappointed not to train it yourself but there are a lot of positives out of it," he said, pointing out how Sizing John, like the 2011 Champion Chase hero, and eight-time Grade One winner, Sizing Europe, was sourced from John Bleahen.

“We’ve bought a Champion Chase winner and a Gold Cup winner off the Bleahens so it shows we’re doing something right. Alan [Potts] was with us that day we bought Sizing John and in fairness to Heather [De Bromhead’s wife] it was she who said we can’t leave here without that one.

“It’s great we helped the Potts realise their ambition to win the Gold Cup. It’s the one Alan always said he wanted to win. It’s a pity we didn’t get to finish, it but I’m delighted for them, and Jessie and Robbie,” he added.

De Bromhead also outlined how the Grade Two Belfast Titanic Chase over two and a half miles at Down Royal in early November had been earmarked for Sizing John’s return to action this season before the owner moved his horses. The trainer ultimately won the race with Sub Lieutenant.

High-class horse

“The second-season novices race at Down Royal, the one Sub Lieutenant won, was the race we had in mind for him,” he said. Asked if he was surprised at the stamina Sizing John has shown in his last three races, De Bromhead added: “No, he’s a very high-class horse.”

The fluctuating fortunes of championship racing had been illustrated just two days prior to the Gold Cup when De Bromhead saddled Special Tiara to a dramatic Queen Mother Champion Chase success.

Special Tiara beat the Potts-owned Fox Norton by a head while Sizing John’s old nemesis Douvan struggled home seventh as a 2-9 favourite and was subsequently found to injured his pelvis.

“I would imagine Special Tiara would run next in the Celebration Chase. He likes Sandown and it looks an obvious race for him but we’ll see,” De Bromhead said.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column