Envoi Allen has settled into his new surroundings well, according to trainer Henry de Bromhead.
Already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, Envoi Allen will head back to the big meeting as the banker of the week for many in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on Thursday.
Owners Cheveley Park Stud switched Envoi Allen to De Bromhead’s care last week, days before Gordon Elliott was suspended for six months after a picture of him sitting on a dead horse was posted on social media.
“He’s settled in really well. Obviously it’s not ideal – it’s not how you want to get horses – but we feel very fortunate that Cheveley Park sent him and the others to us,” said De Bromhead.
“We’re trying to keep his routine as similar as possible. The horses arrived looking fantastic.
“Gordon was very helpful and filled us in on what he’d been doing, and he seems really good. He marches around the place – I saw him this morning and was delighted. He schooled really well for Jack Kennedy yesterday.
“Touch wood, he’s settled in as well as he could, considering it’s two weeks before the race.”
Should Envoi Allen meet with a first defeat, the finger could well be pointed at the change in scenery, but that is not something which concerns De Bromhead.
“There’s pressure with all of them – my main objective is to get them there as well as I can. As much as you love to maintain unbeaten records – Honeysuckle is in the same position – I know how hard it is to win at Cheltenham,” De Bromhead told talkSPORT2.
Honeysuckle was a winner at the Festival last year and is set for one of the big clashes of the week with fellow mare Epatante in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
“She seems to be progressing all the time. Last year she was six, it was her first time going to Cheltenham – and we felt two and a half (miles) was more her trip at the time,” said De Bromhead.
“We were trying to look for the most winnable option – although coming up against Benie Des Dieux, so it wasn’t necessarily that. It (Mares’ Hurdle) just seemed the safer option. I was delighted to get a first winner for (owner) Kenny Alexander there as well.
“Now we’ve ticked that box. We said if things went well in the Irish Champion Hurdle, we’d like to have a go at the Champion Hurdle. She made that decision for us.”
De Bromhead later revealed Honeysuckle will not be joined in the Champion Hurdle by stablemate Jason The Militant, adding: “He needs soft ground over two miles and is the type of fella that I wouldn’t want to jar up if it was much better than that.
“We will aim him at Aintree over two-and-a-half on a flat track. We would run him on good to soft there.
“Cheltenham comes a bit soon after the Red Mills, so it was a combination of things really.”
De Bromhead also has two live chances in the Gold Cup, with Minella Indo and A Plus Tard.
“Minella Indo had a great start to the season, then fell when favourite in the Savills. It wasn’t a plan to go to the Irish Gold Cup, but we had to go get a clear round somewhere,” he said.
“He was probably a little disappointing immediately after the race, but he seems great now and he always comes alive at Cheltenham. We’re hoping for a big run – he was only just chinned by Champ last year, so shouldn’t be far away from him.
“A Plus Tard looked good winning the Savills Chase – showing he stayed, having already won a Grade One over two miles. I’m looking forward to both of them.
“There has to be a doubt about the trip with any horse until they’ve done it, but he’s shown a liking for the track and was staying on again in the Ryanair last year. In the Savills, it looked like he needed every inch of three miles.”
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