There are some horses that enter the record books for their achievements alone. In the case of A Plus Tard, there will always be another reason why he’s remembered so fondly by many, which is the association between him and Rachael Blackmore.
It was on the back of the famous horse that Blackmore won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2022, becoming the first female rider to win the blue riband event. A Plus Tard achieved more than just that during his racing career, of course, but to win the race that many consider to be the ultimate event in jump racing in such an historical manner means he’ll always be remembered for it.
A Wonderful Horse
The owners of A Plus Tard, Cheveley Park Stud, have made the decision to retire the horse, largely because the victory in the main event run during the week of the Cheltenham Festival was his last win on the turf.
At the time of the win, Blackmore said, “You can never dream too big. This is something. I never thought would be possible”. Many female jockeys had attempted to win the famous race before her, but it was A Plus Tard that finally saw her over the line in order to make history.
Bred in France by Mme Henri Devin, the horse raced five times in his native country and never finished outside of the top three places.
In May of 2018 the horses was gelded and then in there October he was bought by Cheveley Park Stud and taken on to train with Henry de Bromhead. He made his debut for his new owner-trainer combo at Gowran Park, coming second in a two mile and four furlong steeplechase. A month later he enjoyed a win at Naas before following that up with a second place finish in a Grade 3 event at Punchestown.
His first win at the Cheltenham Festival came courtesy of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase in the March of 2019, with another finish in the places coming in the Punchestown Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase.
Riding with Rachael Blackmore
It is not uncommon for horses and jockeys to have a good relationship with each other. There is something about the way some animals respond to the humans that ride them that means that they can achieve great things together.
It doesn’t take anything away from A Plus Tard to suggest that he was ridden well by Rachael Blackmore, nor does it tarnish Blackmore’s incredible success to say that she and A Plus Tard had a marvellous working relationship. It was with Blackmore on his back that he won that first race at Cheltenham in 2019, as well as a Grade 1 event at Leopardstown towards the end of the year.
They came third together in the Ryanair Chase in 2020 and they came second together in the Gold Cup a year later, losing out to stablemate Minella Indo. In 2022, however, Blackmore and A Plus Tard got their recent, winning the biggest prize in jump racing by 15 lengths over the horse they’d lost out to the year before.
Blackmore stuck with the horse for the next few outings, but the pair couldn’t quite repeat the success that they’d achieved together under the direction of trainer Henry de Bromhead. A Plus Tard’s retirement brings to and end a phenomenal career and a riding partner that Blackmore will never forget.