Punchestown possibility for Envoi Allen

Envoi Allen could aim to atone for his fall at Cheltenham with an outing at the Punchestown Festival.

Now with Henry de Bromhead following his switch from Gordon Elliott, Envoi Allen suffered the first defeat of his career last week in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

He was just about the only disappointment in a stellar week for owners Cheveley Park Stud, who celebrated three winners and two seconds.

“Before the Festival we thought Envoi Allen might be our winner and the others might go close, but it wasn’t to be for him. He’ll learn from that,” said the stud’s managing director Chris Richardson.

Jack Kennedy trudges back following Envoi Allen's fall
Jack Kennedy trudges back following Envoi Allen’s fall (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“Unfortunately he made his first mistake of the season at the wrong time. He was a little upset beforehand, a bit on his toes and Jack (Kennedy) was trying to get him settled.

“He’d only been in small fields up to now, and with horses around him he probably wasn’t focussed on the job in hand. Luckily both him and Jack were fine and we can look forward to many more occasions going forward.

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“He’s in at Fairyhouse over Easter. As long as he’s fine, obviously travelling can take a bit out of a horse, Punchestown would probably be favourite I would suspect, but that is something the Thompsons will discuss.”

One of the most impressive displays of the week was Allaho in the Ryanair, and all options are open to him over seemingly all trips.

Allaho was spectacular in the Ryanair
Allaho was spectacular in the Ryanair (Michael Steele/PA)

“Allaho was impressive. I think for my part, two and a half miles suits him really well. Over three miles we were always wondering if he quite got home,” said Richardson.

“He’s got a great future. Whether we drop him back to two miles or stay and two and a half, he could still get three one day as well. He was spectacular to watch so we’re excited to see what he does next.

“Everything looks open to him. Richard Thompson (owner) will speak to Willie (Mullins), but the Melling Chase at Aintree is an option over two and a half miles, going left-handed, that must be a consideration, but it will all come out in the wash. It’s exciting to have a horse of that calibre and he certainly caught the imagination in every way.”

As well as Sir Gerhard in the Bumper, Quilixios carried the Cheveley colours to victory in the Triumph Hurdle.

Quilixios was an impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle
Quilixios was an impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle (Michael Steele/PA)

“Going into the race he was four from four and by then Rachael (Blackmore) was just full of confidence and gave him a fantastic ride. It was a stellar performance and confirmed how good he potentially is,” said Richardson.

A Plus Tard was a length and a half away from making a memorable week unforgettable in the Gold Cup and Aintree is on his agenda.

Richardson said: “I think A Plus Tard showed he stayed the trip well enough and he’s only a young horse, hopefully he’ll have a few more goes at it. He’s only seven.

“We may see him back at Aintree where that track would suit him, if the travelling and the race hasn’t taken too much out of him. He needs to go left-handed ideally.”

Cheveley Park are still relative newcomers to the National Hunt scene after the late David Thompson decided he wanted to cheer on a small but select string in the winter months. Thompson sadly died in January.

“We sent a small but strong team, but to have three winners and two seconds was fantastic and it was a fitting tribute to David Thompson,” said Richardson.

“David Thompson wanted them to run in Cheveley’s colours and wanted some action during the winter months. We couldn’t have dreamed it would work out so well.

“Last week really was pinch yourself stuff and a great credit to the Thompsons, and Tom Malone and Alex Elliott who source the horses.

“It’s obviously been a very tough time and it would have been lovely had David Thompson seen Cheltenham week, but it wasn’t to be. He certainly leaves a great legacy.”

Mullins secures top trainer honours despite ‘in and out sort of week’

Willie Mullins pinpointed all-the-way Ryanair Chase victor Allaho as the highlight of his six winners at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

The Closutton handler once again claimed the top trainer title as Galopin Des Champs won the closing Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, meaning he edged Henry de Bromhead on countback.

However, Mullins was in no doubt that Allaho’s effortless 12-length victory in the Thursday feature provided the crowning moment for this year – with the trainer already turning his thoughts to next year’s Champion Chase over two miles.

Allaho and Rachael Blackmore in full flight
Allaho and Rachael Blackmore in full flight (Michael Steele/PA)

He said: “Allaho stands out a mile, I think.

“After racing yesterday I was thinking he looked like a King George horse, but when I analysed it, I started thinking we should maybe aim for a Champion Chase instead.

“The way he jumps so slick and so fast, I think we could bring him back in trip – and we could try two miles at Punchestown.”

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While Mullins enjoyed plenty of success, he did have disappointments, too, with Chacun Pour Soi only third as a hot favourite in the Champion Chase while another odds-on shot, Concertista, was collared on the line in Tuesday’s Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

Mullins’ dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo had to settle for third in his attempt at a hat-trick.

Concertista (right) just lost out to Black Tears on Tuesday
Concertista (right) just lost out to Black Tears on Tuesday (Tim Goode/PA)

The trainer said: “We had an in and out sort of week, but it came good in the end.

“I always think 33 per cent of favourites win, so I was thinking we might have four or five winners this week and I was hoping for more.

“To have six winners is great. I suppose Concertista got beat and Chacun Pour Soi got beat. Al Boum ran a cracker, but it wasn’t to be.

“A few of our hotpots got beat, but then some other horses came up, and I think we’ve had seven seconds and five thirds.”

Paul Townend (left) on al Boum Photo congratulates Jack Kennedy on Minella Indo
Paul Townend (left) on al Boum Photo congratulates Jack Kennedy on Minella Indo (Michael Steele/PA)

Mullins was not too disheartened following Al Boum Photo’s eclipse, giving full credit to the De Bromhead-trained pair of Minella Indo and A Plus Tard who dominated the finish.

He said: “I just thought he was beaten by two very good horses.

“Minella Indo likes it here and is a good horse. A Plus Tard is a very good horse as well – he advertised that in Ireland.

“The three of them pulled right away from the field and our fellow is getting a bit older and is probably not as sharp as he was.

“He knocked the third-last and the second-last and those were the jumps that won him the race last year.”

Cheltenham went ahead behind closed doors this year
Cheltenham went ahead behind closed doors this year (Nick Potts/PA)

The Festival was run behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions this year and although Mullins admitted the atmosphere was lacking, he hailed Cheltenham’s decision to match up with WellChild and promote the charity across the week.

He added: “It’s obviously been a TV Cheltenham, rather than an atmospheric Cheltenham with crowds, but I think Cheltenham hit it off rightly by teaming up with WellChild, which is a very worthy charity.

“We’re delighted to support them and I’d like to thank all the people that did.”

Blackmore stepped forward as Cheltenham reminded everyone how great racing can be

Rachael Blackmore must have heard on the grapevine that the 2021 Cheltenham Festival was holding out for a heroine – and she answered the call to game-changing effect.

This year’s showpiece meeting got under way, undoubtedly, at a highly vulnerable tipping point of public perception for the sport of racing.

It was against a potentially bleak backdrop that Blackmore shone a light with historic triumph after historic triumph – surpassing the achievements of hundreds of jockeys of whichever gender by winning the Champion Hurdle, four more Grade Ones and consequently the leading rider award, the first female to come close to any of the above.

Rachael Blackmore holds the Ruby Walsh Trophy as the leading rider at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival
Rachael Blackmore holds the Ruby Walsh Trophy as the leading rider at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival (Tim Goode/PA)

She finished a mere second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as A Plus Tard could not quite manage to haul back his Henry de Bromhead stablemate Minella Indo, ridden by Jack Kennedy.

Her spectacularly successful meeting will, of course, be career-defining – although plenty more glories surely lie ahead – but it is more than a personal triumph, because it has upended the landscape of possibilities, for female jockeys especially, when it comes to habitually riding winners on National Hunt’s greatest stage.

More perhaps than any of that, or certainly at least as significant, is that Blackmore’s exemplary timing has been in evidence not just in the thick of the action but in the bigger picture, at a moment when racing needed her like never before.

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Doubts are still cast by many over the probity of holding the Cheltenham Festival with a near quarter-of-a-million footfall 12 months ago when the consequences at the start of a developing pandemic were unknown.

Those rumblings may never be dispelled – and yet, potentially damaging as they have been for racing, a darker cloud hung over the sport in the weeks before this year’s meeting as the lovers and haters struggled equally to comprehend an image which first stretched universal credibility and then sensibilities.

After Gordon Elliott confirmed the authenticity of a photograph circulated on social media of him sat on a dead horse, racing was aghast and beset by headlines calling into question its very being.

As the County Meath trainer began a year-long ban, the second six months suspended, the sport therefore got under way with its reputation hanging in the balance and its future well-being perhaps dependent on a feelgood Festival.

Bob Olinger was a Grade One winner for Rachael Blackmore on Wednesda
Bob Olinger was a Grade One winner for Rachael Blackmore on Wednesday (Michael Steele/PA)

In the ongoing absence of crowds and owners, because of coronavirus restrictions, that was going to be no easy task.

But step forward Blackmore.

Her utter domination arrived in partnership for the most part with De Bromhead, who eventually had to cede the meeting’s top trainer award to the record-breaking Willie Mullins, but shared the limelight throughout as he marginally outdid even Blackmore by becoming the first ever to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup at the same Festival.

Blackmore fired her first big opening salvo when Honeysuckle stormed to a near seven-length victory in Tuesday’s Unibet Champion Hurdle.

She was only just getting started, though.

Next came two Wednesday winners, De Bromhead’s Bob Olinger off the blocks in the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Sir Gerhard rounding out the card in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Blackmore’s three falls to earth in between merely reminded one and all of how remarkable her achievements were becoming, and how dangerous jump racing can be – whatever the talent of the participants.

Rachael Blackmore and Allaho were outstanding winners of the Ryanair Chase
Rachael Blackmore and Allaho were outstanding winners of the Ryanair Chase (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Two more winners on Thursday included a breathtaking performance from horse and jockey as the front-running Allaho dismissed his Grade One rivals in the Ryanair Chase by 12 lengths and more.

By the time the Gold Cup came round in the middle of Friday afternoon, Blackmore already had the Festival’s top rider award surely in safe keeping – although Kennedy made her wait just a little longer by pegging back the score, thanks to Minella Indo.

Blackmore’s celebratory post-race interviews had begun to have a glorious groundhog feel to them, if such a thing is possible.

She spoke eloquently and modestly throughout, though, about how much she owed those who had put her in position to keep winning Cheltenham’s greatest races.

In truth, Blackmore was the gift that kept on giving – and in 2021, racing could never have more reason to be grateful.

Danny Mullins steps in to floor Stayers’ rivals

Flooring Porter provided Danny Mullins with an unexpected Cheltenham Festival victory on the third day of the showpiece meeting.

Contesting the feature race, the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, Flooring Porter was the intended mount of Jonathan Moore but it was Mullins who got the leg-up when Moore felt an injury sustained in a previous fall would leave him unable to ride the horse to the best of his abilities.

Such a turn of events proved to be a stroke of luck for Mullins, who expertly steered the six-year-old to a three-and-a-quarter-length success at 12-1 for trainer Gavin Cromwell.

The Marsh Novices’ Chase provided another unexpected result as the odds-on favourite Envoi Allen fell at the fourth fence, sacrificing his flawless record and leaving an opportunity for Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House he was not to forego.

Elsewhere Rachael Blackmore’s dominance continued as she was victorious for Henry de Bromhead in both the Ryanair Chase and the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, aboard Allaho and Telmesomethinggirl respectively.

Mrs Milner was another popular winner as she took the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle for trainer Paul Nolan and resurgent jockey Bryan Cooper, while Mount Ida had to be seen to be believed in the Kim Muir.

Picture of the day

Jack Kennedy cuts a lone figure as he walks back up the course after falling from 4-9 favourite Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase
Jack Kennedy cuts a lone figure as he walks back up the course after falling from 4-9 favourite Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase (David Davies/PA)
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Quote of the day

“Everybody knows how hard it is to get a good horse. We came across this lad by accident, he was a very cheap store so it’s a bit of a fairytale really – it just goes to show dreams can still happen” – Gavin Cromwell after Flooring Porter’s success in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

Performance of the day

Allaho, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, on his way to winning the Ryanair Chase
Allaho, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, on his way to winning the Ryanair Chase (Tim Goode/PA)

Allaho was an emphatic winner of the Ryanair Chase for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, soaring to a 12-length victory after leading from the third fence to the line. Though his jump at the final fence was not completely fluent, the seven-year-old had been so bold and dominant from the tapes that only a tumble would have thrown a rope to the distant chasing pack.

Ride of the day

Jack Kennedy clears the last in front on Mount Ida
Jack Kennedy clears the last in front on Mount Ida (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Backers of Mount Ida – and there were plenty as she was sent off the 3-1 favourite in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup – would have been forgiven for throwing away their tickets after four fences. She was jumping markedly out to her right and was almost tailed off before Jack Kennedy produced one of the most memorable rides in Festival history. Having hit the maximum 999-1 in-running, Mount Ida sliced through the field before hitting the front on the bridle. Quite how much she will go up in the handicap is for another day.

Tweet of the day

Liverpool’s James Milner was following the action closely – he was always going to be backing Mrs Milner!

What’s next?

Al Boum Photo is poised to bid for a famous hat-trick
Al Boum Photo is poised to bid for a famous hat-trick (Tim Goode/PA)

Al Boum Photo will bid to emulate greats such as Best Mate and Arkle when he attempts to win a third successive Gold Cup on the final day of the Festival. His chief rivals are Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, piloted by the in-form Rachael Blackmore, and Nicky Henderson’s Champ. Elsewhere on the card the leading four-year-old hurdlers battle it out in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, with Zanahiyr and Tritonic heading the field, and Elimay is well-fancied for the Grade Two Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase.

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.

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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.”

Punters hit the front in battle with bookmakers

Punters floored the bookmakers with a string of well-backed winners on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

The layers just about held the edge at the halfway stage and had a false dawn in the opener on Thursday when 4-9 favourite Envoi Allen, one of the bankers of the week, was an early casualty in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

His exit blew the race wide open and it was left to the Nicky Henderson-trained Chantry House (9-1) to land the spoils.

One punter who was happy he decided not to pin half a million hopes on Envoi Allen was Betfair client Paul Dean. He partially cashed out for £250,000 after all the previous legs of his £5 accumulator had won.

The layers had another narrow escape when 100-30 favourite The Bosses Oscar had to play second fiddle to Mrs Milner (12-1) in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.

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But then the tide turned with Allaho (3-1 favourite) justifying strong support in the Ryanair Chase for Willie Mullins and Rachael Blackmore.

The Shunter (9-4 favourite) was probably the best-backed winner in the Paddy Power Plate, while Telmesomethinggirl (5-1) was another popular one for the irrepressible Blackmore in the Parnell Properties Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

The defeat of 9-4 favourite Paisley Park in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, won by Flooring Porter (12-1), did little to cheer the bookmakers, while the incredible last-to-first dash of Mount Ida (3-1 favourite) in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup summed up their day.

“Envoi Allen’s defeat in the Marsh ended the run of opening-race winning favourites this week, while the ever popular Paisley Park could manage only third place in the Stayers’ Hurdle,” said Coral’s David Stevens.

“But if they were the highlights for us, plenty of punters cheered home two more winners for the in-form Rachael Blackmore in Allaho and Telmesomethinggirl, while The Shunter landed one of the gambles of the week in the Plate.

“With the biggest day of the week to come, there’s still all to play for in this stay at home Festival, with Blackmore’s mount, A Plus Tard, likely to prove extremely popular in the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup betting – to the point where the duo could even be sent off favourite in place of the hat-trick-seeking Al Boum Photo.”

Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “That was a shocker of a day for the bookies with a string of bad results including the smashed-up The Shunter and Mount Ida in the lucky last.

“We were winning yesterday, but we’re down on the week now and need a good Gold Cup day to recover.”

Betway’s Chad Yeomans summed up the feelings of the layers.

“After a good opening two days for us, the punters have definitely had the edge today. It’s very quiet in on the trading room floor right now,” he said.

“It was sad to see Envoi Allen over-jump and not make it round. We’re all here to watch fantastic racing and we were starved of that in the opener. It was brilliant to see him get straight up though and he’ll have another day – or many other days – to earn punters their cash back.

“The Shunter, Telmesomethinggirl and Mount Ida were our three biggest losing results of the day, so when they all were victories in the last three races, it meant for a bad afternoon. The pendulum has swung in the punters’ favour going into day four.”

Amazing Allaho rockets to Ryanair glory

Allaho produced a dominant front-running performance under Rachael Blackmore to give Willie Mullins a record fourth success in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old simply ran his rivals into the ground from the off, with Blackmore making her intentions clear from flag-fall in setting a strong pace and putting the rest of the field under pressure.

Min, who won the race last year, tried to match his stablemate but was burned off from three out, where Allaho pulled clear of the opposition.

Victory never looked in doubt as the 3-1 favourite kept going to strike by 12 lengths from Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, with Tornado Flyer half a length away in third for the Mullins stable and Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov a creditable fourth.

Mullins said: “That was an awesome performance. I thought Min would go with him every step of the way but his jumping wasn’t up to scratch, we might have to look at that.

“Allaho did everything right. The first thing I did when Rachael came back was lift the number cloth to see if the lead was still in there as it looked like he was just carrying Rachael!

“He was just awesome, his galloping and jumping, if he puts the two together – I was hoping he could do that over three miles, but if he’s only a two-and-a-half-miler that will do me.

Rachael Blackmore celebrates
Rachael Blackmore celebrates (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“I think aggressive tactics suit him, watching at home he just gallops and jumps.

“I was as gobsmacked as anyone watching it, I fully expected the two of them to collapse at the third-last but that is their style, we just had to hope one would be good enough.

“We might try three miles again, maybe the King George, we’ll see what connections think.”

Defending champion Min heads Mullins’ team in Ryanair reckoning

Willie Mullins appears to hold the key to the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday with at least three leading candidates in Allaho, Min and Melon following the confirmation stage.

That trio was among six left in by the Closutton trainer after there were 16 acceptors.

Min took the Grade One honours 12 months ago, but he has to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Dublin Chase after making a winning seasonal debut in the John Durkan.

Melon could try to end a run of four second places at the last four Festivals, having played second fiddle in the Supreme, the Champion Hurdle twice and the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

Allaho staked his claim when winning a Grade Two contest at Thurles in January. He was third in the RSA Novices’ Chase last year and third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2019.

Chacun Pour Soir remains in the Ryanair but is set to go for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday, for which he is a short-priced favourite. Cilaos Emery and Tornado Flyer are Mullins’ other possibles.

Dual Festival winner Samcro, who is with Denise Foster while Gordon Elliott serves his suspension, is also in the line up, while Henry de Bromhead’s Chris’s Dream and Fakir D’Oudairies from Joseph O’Brien’s yard complete the Irish interest.

Leading the home defence is Kim Bailey’s Imperial Aura, a winner at the Festival last year. However, he blotted his copybook at Kempton last time when unseating his rider at the second fence.

Jeremy Scott has left in Betfair Ascot Chase victor Dashel Drasher while Nicky Henderson’s Peterborough Chase scorer Mister Fisher and Saint Calvados, runner-up in this race last year, are among others in the mix.

Allaho sparkles in Grade Two double for Mullins and Townend

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend secured a Grade Two double at Thurles with victories for Allaho and Colreevy.

Third in the RSA at Cheltenham in March, Allaho had reappeared in the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown before finishing fourth to A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Sent off the 10-11 favourite for the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old took the field along under Townend before being pressed by Mark Walsh-ridden stablemate Elimay.

The latter briefly looked like being a major threat, but the market leader was quick to assert on jumping the last and came home three lengths to the good.

A crack at the Ryanair Chase looks like being on the agenda for Allaho at this year’s Festival, a race for which he was cut to 5-1 from 6-1 by Betfair.

Winning trainer Mullins said: “I think he was idling in front all the time, and that (two and a half miles) might be more his trip. I was a little worried when Elimay got to him, but when he saw her he picked up and went away again like a decent horse.

“Elimay ran a fantastic race as well, and she will go for the Opera Hat Chase in Naas next and maybe on to the mares’ chase in Cheltenham after that.

“Allaho is a huge horse, and I thought he was a three-miler, but maybe he is better off coming back to two-four or two-five – I am thinking about the Ryanair for him.

Colreevy is still unbeaten over fences after her Grade Two victory at Thurles
Colreevy is still unbeaten over fences after her Grade Two victory at Thurles (Thomas Weekes/PA)

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“He is making progress, and I think he will improve into the spring – which is the time of year you want to improve in. I’m looking forward to his next run, and he’ll probably go straight to Cheltenham.”

Colreevy (4-5 favourite) took her record over fences to three from three in the Coolmore N.H. Sires Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase.

Like Allaho she was in front from the outset, although Scarlet And Dove was giving her a race before crashing out at the second-last.

Mullins said: “She jumps very well and takes it all in her stride. Paul was very happy with her, and how she did everything for him with no fuss about her.

“There’s a Grade Two chase at Limerick in March that we’re looking at next – but whether or not she has higher expectations, I don’t know. I’ll chat with the owners – but they were hoping, coming here today, to hopefully win and then go on to Limerick.

Mullins added: “We might revise plans, but we’ll see – whether or not she has enough experience over fences to go to Cheltenham is another day’s work. Certainly what she has done at Limerick over Christmas and today would lead you to think she might have as good a chance as anything over there.”

Mullins completed a treble when Eurotiep gave Aubrey McMahon his first win over the smaller obstacles in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle.

The 15-8 shot, owned by the Down The Hatch Syndicate that includes McMahon’s father, Luke, romped home by 19 lengths.

“That was a good performance from the horse having run a cracker in a bumper at Christmas,” said Mullins.

“We’ll stay novice hurdling now and I wouldn’t be afraid to go out in trip with him either as he is well able to gallop. He is a horse to look forward to for his syndicate.”

Mullins’ son Patrick steered Noble Yeats (5-4) to victory for his cousin Emmet in division one of the Thurles (Pro-Am) Flat Race.

Division two went to the Jonathan Sweeney-trained evens favourite Churchstonewarrior.

Torygraph put up a good staying performance to win the W. T. O’Grady Memorial Irish EBF Novice Hurdle.

The well-backed 11-8 favourite, trained by Gordon Elliott, followed up his Fairyhouse maiden hurdle success with a three-and-three-quarter-length verdict over over Angels Dawn in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

The winning rider said: “He is a lovely horse and has improved from Fairyhouse. He is a lazy old horse and you have to keep him up to his work, but he does his best work at the business end of things.

“To look at, he is not your typical big, massive staying horse, but he is definitely more effective over a longer trip.”

The Dublin Racing Festival beckons for Blanketontheground (11-2) after her four-length success in the Lough Handicap Hurdle under 5lb claimer Gearoid Brouder.

Trainer Eoin McCarthy was delighted to see the eight-year-old mare regain winning ways after she was beaten at Limerick last time.

“She is a lovely filly and I suppose we got the tactics wrong at Limerick, but that is behind us,” he said.

“She is entered in the big mares’ handicap at Leopardstown and we need a couple to come out but that is the plan.”