• Rachael Blackmore-Minella Times target 2022 Aintree Grand National

By Andrew Atkinson

Trainer Henry de Bromhead has revealed Minella Indo returned to Ireland ‘shook’ following a lacklustre run in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on December 26, returning after 57 days break.

“He was shook when he came off the lorry,” said De Bromhead of the nine-year-old, pulled up in the King George VI by leading rider Rachael Blackmore.

“When he came back from Cheltenham, he was as burly as he always would be.

“I’ve never seen him as tucked up and tightened up as he was (after Kempton).

“We don’t have any obvious reason – but he definitely didn’t come back the way he would normally come back,” said De Bromhead.

Minella Indo who finished third at Down Royal, the Grade 1 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, was well backed at 100-30 for Kempton’s Boxing Day King George VI.

Having shadowed defending champion Frodon, Minella Indo unexpectedly weakened out of contention and was pulled up by Blackmore in a race won by 28-1 outsider Tornado Flyer.

“I might have been trying to put a square peg into a round hole, I don’t know – the most important thing is to get him back now and get him as good as he can be for the spring, which is when he always seems to turn up in fairness to him,” added De Bromhead.

Grand National

Waterford-based De Bromhead reports 2021 Grand National winner Minella Times – who fell on his reappearance in the John Durkan at Punchestown – is well.

Henry De Bromhead: Minella Indo returned to Ireland ‘shook’ after lacklustre run in King George VI.

“Minella Times is good. I’d imagine we’ll enter him in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park and there is a two-mile-five-furlong handicap at Leopardstown. He was second in that last year,” said De Bromhead.

Rachael Blackmore rode Minella Times to victory in the Aintree Grand National in April becoming the first horse to be ridden by a female jockey to win the iconic race.

“We’ll look to aim towards the National,” said De Bromhead.