Envoi Allen easily extended his unbeaten record with an 11th successive victory under rules after his chief market rival Asterion Forlonge fell at the first fence in the Sky Bet Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown.
Gordon Elliott’s dual Cheltenham Festival winner was expected to face a telling test in the Grade Three over two and a half miles, in which he had to give 11lb to his four rivals on heavy ground.
But that situation never materialised after Willie Mullins’ grey got in close when leading and fell for the second race in a row, bringing down outsider Sempo in the process.
Jack Kennedy and Envoi Allen subsequently led throughout – and although challenged by Joseph O’Brien’s Fils D’oudairies three out and again at the last, the 1-2 favourite eased clear again on the run-in to win by three and a half lengths from the 25-1 shot.
Like many onlookers, Elliott was taken by surprise at the early mishap of Asterion Forlonge.
The County Meath trainer said: “It’s a bit of an anti-climax when the other horse went at the first. Jack said he went around in second gear, with his ears pricked.
“When he asked him to quicken going to the last, he did. He got a bit under the last and quickened again.
“He didn’t mind the ground, and he didn’t do anything wrong. I think he’d be better with a lead because he’s idle, but he had to do his own donkey work.”
Paddy Power, Betfair and Coral all left the Cheveley Park Stud-owned Envoi Allen unchanged at 10-11 for the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
That is likely to be his next race, unforeseen problems with travelling to Cheltenham apart.
Elliott added: “He’s in everything at Leopardstown (Dublin Racing Festival) for fear something happened (with any Covid travelling restrictions) in Cheltenham, but I’d say we will go straight to Cheltenham.
“He’s been to Cheltenham twice and showed he can win around it.”
Kennedy admitted the loose-running Asterion Forlonge and Sempo had presented a challenge.
He said: “The loose horses had my heart in my mouth a few times. They crossed over me, but Envoi Allen is so honest he never took his eye off the fence. He’s unbelievable, and a very clever horse.
“He only really does what he has to do. He was very idle the whole way around in front – but as soon as I sat into the saddle, he put the race to bed.”