Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Press Release 12th March 2024 Cheltenham


Thursday 12th March

The combination of jockey Rachael Blackmore and trainer Henry de Bromhead, who enjoyed their finest hour at The Cheltenham Festival when A Plus Tard won the 2022 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, got off the mark at the 2024 Festival at the first possible opportunity when Slade Steel won the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The six-year-old Telescope gelding battled well after the last to prevail by a length and a half from Mystical Power.

Rachael Blackmore told ITV Racing: “I was always travelling. I didn’t really want to be in front jumping the last, but he kind of took me there and battled back so well after the last.”

On winning the opening race, Blackmore added: “It’s unbelievable, I just love this place. It’s just amazing to be coming here and riding these kinds of horses. It’s unbelievable. Henry’s training of them every year, to bring them here in the way he does, is incredible. Davy Roche and all his team at home do some job with all the horses.”

The jockey went on to say: “It’s what every jockey wants to happen - to win the first race, to get that done. Getting to win the first race on the Tuesday is just massive. I’ve been so lucky here the last couple of years on the Tuesday, and I can’t believe my luck is continuing.

“I knew I had a really good chance coming into the race. He’s a really, really tough horse with a massive future. He battled back really well after the line, and I think he won with a little bit [in hand] as well. It was a really good performance. He’s progressing all the time. He stuck his head down and battled back really well to the line. They’re two very good horses, the first and second.

“I was confident about him over two miles, especially after riding him in Leopardstown the last day. Prior to that, I maybe wouldn’t have been as confident, but he jumped much sharper that day, he travelled really well beside Ballyburn; he did things that suggested he would be 100% in a two-mile race, and with the ground going the way it was, that was a help as well.

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

“I could feel him picking up, I was headed but I never thought I wasn’t going to battle [after the final flight]. I knew after two strides that I was going to get there. A lot can change between the last and the line here, so you don’t want to get there too quick.”

Henry de Bromhead told ITV Racing: “Delighted, it’s brilliant. Really happy 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.”

On the overnight rain, he said: “Yeah, it’s funny I think he will be better on better ground, but it obviously helped him over two miles.”


Asked whether this could be a horse that returns for the Champion Hurdle next year, or potentially a chaser in the making, he said: “Let’s enjoy today, I’m not even going to go near answering, who knows – we shall see. We will enjoy today, it’s very exciting to win this.”

The trainer went on to say: “We try and aim for this time of year and hopefully keep going. And you have to pick your battles when you’re against the guys we’re against. We don’t have the strength in depth to turn up week in, week out, but luckily we can get it right at some of these big places.

“He’s always been a pacey horse. He won a bumper for us, which is saying a lot for one of ours. The view was - in fairness, it was the Robcour team and they were spot on - that Ballyburn has beaten us a few times now and that’s the one thing we don’t need to do again. They were spot on. I wasn’t too bothered, and when the rain came you knew it would be more of a test.

“It’s lovely to see the young horses like him coming through. We’re very fortunate in the support we get, we get gorgeous horses to train, and thankfully we can get the odd result.

“Rachael was superb, brilliant as usual. Cool as a breeze. She said she couldn’t believe how well she was going turning in. I was slagging her, saying she obviously wanted a lead longer to let the other horse go past her, but no, she said the horse was just a little bit slow at the last and that probably helped her. It was brilliant.

“This is an amazing place. We’ve had a lot of luck here. It’s done so well, they look after us so well; it’s a cliche, but it’s our Olympics and we’re lucky to be able to  take part.”

Willie Mullins, trainer of runner-up Mystical Power, said: “Mystical Power has come a very long way from winning that bumper in Ballinrobe. The ground probably inconvenienced him, but I’d say the winner was probably just idling in front. It was great for Henry, and great for Robcour. I was very pleased with Asian Master and it was a great spin for Thomas Costello. I thought he gave him every chance to win so I was very happy with that. Tullyhill was a little bit disappointing and Paul wasn’t happy with him from halfway. Even going down to the start he said he wasn’t the usual Tullyhill. I think Supasundae ran well and I was very happy with him.”

Mark Walsh (jockey of Mystical Power, second) said: “Rachael’s horse was slow at the last and my lad winged it, but she just outstayed me up the hill. He was very relaxed today and is learning the whole time. It’s only his fourth run so I have to be delighted with him.”

Jack Kennedy (jockey of Firefox, third) said: “I’m a bit disappointed because I got stopped up the straight.  I wouldn’t have been far away only for that.”

Thomas Costello (jockey of Asian Master, fourth), said: It was fantastic. Unbelievable. The stuff that dreams are made of. He jumped savage. I suppose the ground probably took the sting out of his seed more than anything else, but we had an unbelievable run. It’s something to build on.


1.30pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y

1 Slade Steel 7-2

2 Mystical Power 100-30

3 Firefox 11-2

11 ran

Distances: 1½, 3½   

Time: 4m 12.87s

15th winner at The Festival for jockey Rachael Blackmore

22nd winner at The Festival for trainer Henry de Bromhead

3rd winner at The Festival for owner Robcour


Ireland 1

Great Britain 0


Cookie Policy

We use “cookies” to help enhance your experience and improve the functionality of our website. You can find out more in our cookie policy. We also serve cookies, some with chocolate chips, on our racecourses.