Will Somptueux be De Bromhead’s next star?

Henry de Bromhead enjoyed an outstanding season in the National Hunt, winning the Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Grand National. His charges Honeysuckle, Minella Indo, and Minella Times delivered at the top events of the year to secure the major crowns for the Irishman for the first time in his career. All three horses will be primed and ready to go for the new campaign when they begin their preparations for the signature races towards the end of 2021.

However, the summer months have not stopped De Bromhead training his new crop of talent that could be ready to emerge into the mainstream after building their form in Ireland. Somptueux developed his form over the course of the summer and was one of the leading contenders in the Galway betting odds for the Galway Plate in the company of The Shunter, Royal Rendezvous, and Koshari.

The French thoroughbred still has a long way to go before he becomes an elite competitor in the mold of his prestigious stable-mates. But he is certainly heading in the right direction due to his sustained form in Ireland. Somptueux has earned the confidence of De Bromhead’s top jockey Rachael Blackmore, who rode Minella Times to glory in the Grand National along with Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdle. It is a positive sign that Blackmore has identified Somptueux ahead of the other charges from the yard of De Bromhead, although there have been up and downs in their partnership to date.

Somptueux was off the pace in early races of his career in 2019 at Punchestown and Leopardstown before he and Blackmore combined for their first victory together at the Tullamore Maiden Hurdle at Kilbeggan. Their success continued at Navan in the Beginners’ Chase, finishing ahead of a talented field to win by a dominant eight lengths. He ended 2020 with a disappointing outing at Fairyhouse, prompting De Bromhead to rest his charge for six months. However, he returned to form at the same venue with Blackmore in the saddle. Somptueux put forward a brilliant performance as an underdog. Blackmore timed the French thoroughbred’s surge to perfection, allowing him to close out a two-length triumph.

 

Somptueux had the chance to build on his victory at the Ladbrokes Handicap Chase at Punchestown. He appeared ready for another timely sprint over the line after maneuvering his way into position with three fences remaining, only to fall for the first time of his career. Both horse and jockey escaped unscathed, but it served as a blow to the confidence of the two parties that could loom large in the future. The six-year-old made his comeback at Wexford in July, and although he was not at his best, he still notched a second-place finish.

There is plenty of potential left in Somptueux, and the De Bromhead-Blackmore tandem will ensure that he maximizes his ability. He has not appeared at Cheltenham Festival yet but could make his bow in 2022. The Ryanair Chase seems to be the best fit for his style and distance, which could see Somptueux follow in the footsteps of his stable-mate Balko des Flos to win the event. A victory in that race could foreshadow potential success in the Grand National or Cheltenham Gold Cup. Now that De Bromhead has broken down the door at those signature races, the floodgates may soon open due to the talent of Somptueux and the outstanding charges in his yard.