Delight for Cheveley Park as Allaho flies to Ryanair glory

Cheveley Park Stud director Richard Thompson was thrilled to see Allaho deliver a poignant success for the team with a scintillating display in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

More renowned for their success on the Flat, the successful breeding and ownership operation have made a big splash in the jumping game in recent years with a relatively small but select team.

It has been a difficult year for the Thompson family, with the death of Cheveley Park owner David Thompson in early January, before several of their Cheltenham Festival hopes moved yards just a fortnight before the showpiece meeting.

The ups and downs of racing have been perfectly encapsulated by horses carrying the familiar red, white and blue colours this week.

Sir Gerhard provided Cheveley Park with a third successive win in Wednesday’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper – but it was a very different story when the previously unbeaten Envoi Allen fell in Thursday’s opening Marsh Novices’ Chase.

There was a huge pick-me-up for connections just over an hour later, however, with the Mullins-trained Allaho and the seemingly unstoppable Rachael Blackmore producing a fantastic front-running performance in the first of the two day three features.

Thompson said: “What’s happened today, in the space of about an hour, just demonstrates horse racing doesn’t it?

“Henry (de Bromhead) says Envoi Allen is absolutely fine, which is the key thing, of course.

Allaho returns to the Cheltenham winner's enclosure
Allaho returns to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“Allaho has always threatened to put in a big performance. He ran very well at the Festival last year and there’s been a bit of confusion since about his trip and the way he likes to be ridden, but today was absolutely perfect.

“He jumped like a stag throughout the race. It was really incredible to watch.”

Thompson admits the victories have brought on mixed emotions, with his father very much in his thoughts.

He added: “I’ve been watching all the racing with mum and my three sons. It’s been a difficult week because dad loved Cheltenham and it was his idea and his project to buy the jumps horses a few years ago.

“It’s a shame he’s not here to see it this year. We obviously had the horses moving from Gordon Elliott’s a couple of weeks ago as well, so it’s been a really up and down few weeks.”

What has already been a memorable week for Cheveley Park and Blackmore could get even better on Friday, with A Plus Tard challenging dual winner Al Boum Photo for WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup favouritism.

“To win the Gold Cup would be fantastic. It’s unfortunate owners can’t be there, but someone is going to win the Gold Cup – it might be us or it might be someone else,” said Thompson.

“We’ve now had 13 runners at the Festival since 2019 and we’ve won with six. Three Champion Bumpers, a Ballymore, the novices’ handicap chase with A Plus Tard and the Ryanair today.

“We’ll go again tomorrow and go again at Cheltenham with this squad of horses for the next three or four years, you’d like to think.

“We’ve still got two or three younger ones to come as well. We’re just blessed to have had a tremendous amount of success within this small group of horses.”

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