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Envoi Allen suffered chipped joint in Punchestown defeat

A chipped joint has emerged as a viable excuse for Envoi Allen’s disappointing performance at last week’s Punchestown Festival.

Unbeaten in his first 11 starts under rules, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding met with defeat for the first time after falling when bidding for a third win at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Hopes were high he could bounce back to his brilliant best for a much-anticipated clash with Monkfish in Punchestown’s Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase.

However, Henry de Bromhead’s charge was struggling a long way from home before eventually being pulled up by Rachael Blackmore, while Monkfish failed to reel in his stablemate Colreevy.

Things have not gone to plan of late for Envoi Allen
Things have not gone to plan of late for Envoi Allen (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Envoi Allen was found to lame post-race and a subsequent CT scan at Fethard Equine Hospital has revealed the extent of his injury.

Cheveley Park’s managing director Chris Richardson said: “From the results of the investigations, it appears he has (chipped a joint).

“If you look at the picture of him taking off about a furlong before the second fence, it was the most unbelievable leap.

“Rachael obviously did the right thing by pulling him up. You could see that she had one tight rein and one loose rein, so things weren’t as expected.”

Rachael Blackmore with Sir Gerhard at Cheltenham
Rachael Blackmore with Sir Gerhard at Cheltenham (Michael Steele/PA)

Envoi Allen’s Cheltenham mishap was a rare blip at the Festival for the Cheveley Park team, who won with Sir Gerhard, Quilixios and Allaho, and went close to Gold Cup glory with A Plus Tard.

The Cheltenham winners were beaten at Punchestown, but Richardson added: “All the horses have had a long season and we had a wonderful Cheltenham.

“They can all go on holiday now and we can look forward to next year.”

Quilixios seeks to extend unbeaten record

Triumph Hurdle hero Quilixios puts his unbeaten record on the line on the final afternoon of the Punchestown Festival.

Making his first start for Henry de Bromhead after being moved from Gordon Elliott’s stable, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding ran out an authoritative winner of the juvenile championship in the Cotswolds.

The four-year-old renews rivalry on Saturday with the third and fourth from Cheltenham, in the Willie Mullins-trained Haut En Couleurs and Denise Foster’s Zanahiyr.

De Bromhead has high hopes his charge can come out on top once more in the Grade One Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.

“He’s been really good and looks amazing. Obviously he only came to us just prior to Cheltenham, but he seems in really good form,” said the Waterford-based trainer.

“He seems to have a very high cruising speed – he jumps well and he’s a very exciting horse.

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“You’d hope he’d jump a fence, looking at his technique and everything. He’s a lovely, big, scopey horse – he’s a big fella and is exciting for the future.”

The first two from the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham are also in contention.

Jeff Kidder on his way to victory at Fairyhouse
Jeff Kidder on his way to victory at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA)

Noel Meade’s Jeff Kidder, who has since won a Grade Two at Fairyhouse, led Mullins’ Saint Sam home at Prestbury Park – but both need to progress further to match the form of Quilixios.

French raider Mica Malpic (David Cottin), Druid’s Altar (Joseph O’Brien), Palace Rock (Francis Casey) and Zoffanien (Denis Hogan) complete the line-up.

Willie Mullins is responsible for four of the nine runners declared for the Coolmore Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle – a Grade One contest he has won seven times in the last 10 runnings.

This year’s quartet is headed by Concertista, who is bidding to bounce back from a narrow defeat to Black Tears when odds-on for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Skyace has enjoyed a fantastic season
Skyace has enjoyed a fantastic season (Niall Carson/PA)

The Closutton handler also saddles Burning Victory – not seen since winning last year’s Triumph Hurdle – as well as My Sister Sarah and Stormy Ireland.

There would be no more popular winner than former Mullins inmate Skyace, for trainer Shark Hanlon.

The £600 purchase has won five times this season – most recently claiming Grade One honours in novice company at Fairyhouse.

Hanlon acknowledges the fact his stable star faces a much tougher assignment this weekend, but he is relishing the challenge.

He said: “It’s a step up in class for her, and we’re taking her out of novice company, but this is probably going to be her last run for a while – and she’s entitled to be there.

“She’s in great order and good form. The prize-money is so big as far down as fourth place, so we’ll give it our best shot.

“She’s entitled to take them on.”

Another ex-Mullins runner Laurina makes her first start for new connections, with Global Equity (Joseph O’Brien), Minella Melody (De Bromhead) and Politesse (Lorna Fowler) the other hopefuls.

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.”

All eyes on would-be superstar Envoi Allen

Envoi Allen puts his unbeaten record and huge reputation on the line in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old is already a dual Festival winner, having previously landed the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Given he has barely put a foot wrong in three starts over fences to date, the budding superstar of the National Hunt scene is unsurprisingly all the rage to make it a hat-trick on his return to the Cotswolds, despite a late move from Gordon Elliott’s yard to Henry de Bromhead.

“He’s travelled over well and Henry is very happy with him,” said Cheveley Park’s managing director Chris Richardson.

Envoi Allen at Cheltenham on Wednesday morning
Envoi Allen at Cheltenham on Wednesday morning (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“There’s little to say that hasn’t already been said really. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and I just love the way he pricks his ears and jumps beautifully.

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“Even last time at Punchestown, when it looked like he was going to get challenged, he just showed his class and went again.”

Richardson admits not being on track is disappointing for both himself and Cheveley Park’s owners, the Thompson family.

He added: “We’re missing it all. We’ve had such a special time at Cheltenham the last couple of years and it would have been very special to be there again.

“I suppose it does take a bit of the pressure off, (but) to have 16 National Hunt horses and have six of them running this week is beyond one’s wildest dreams.”

Envoi Allen is set to face seven rivals in the day three opener, with Nicky Henderson saddling both Chantry House and Fusil Raffles.

Fusil Raffles is three from four over fences this season, while Chantry House bounced back from a disappointing run behind his stablemate at Cheltenham in December with a comprehensive success at Wetherby last month.

Henderson said: “Fusil Raffles has been a star this season. The only bad run he had was at Cheltenham, on the day everything of mine got stuck in the mud.

“I was very pleased with Chantry House at Wetherby. He was third in the Supreme last year and was very impressive first time over fences at Ascot, which isn’t a place I would usually take a first-time-out novice chaser.

“He was very disappointing at Cheltenham next time – he completely forgot how to jump.

“Since then he has had a bit of surgery on his back and he did very well, as Wetherby was only eight weeks after that.

“We’re running into what is probably one of the Irish bankers in Envoi Allen, but I’m not going to lie down and with Chantry House and Fusil Raffles, we’ve got two shots at it.”

Willie Mullins is also doubly represented, with Asterion Forlonge and Blackbow both declared.

Dan Skelton’s Shan Blue, the Mick Winters-trained Chatham Street Lad and Darver Star from Gavin Cromwell’s yard complete the line-up.

Envoi Allen the headline act as Cheveley Park target more Festival glory

Cheveley Park Stud director Richard Thompson is relishing the prospect of seeing the brilliant Envoi Allen lead a formidable team into battle at the Cheltenham Festival.

One of the most successful breeding and ownership operations in the sport, Cheveley Park are more renowned for their success on the Flat, with the brilliant sprinter Pivotal, the top-class Medicean and multiple Group One-winning mare Russian Rhythm all household names.

But in recent years, the late David Thompson and his wife Patricia ramped up their interest in National Hunt racing – a move which has seen them land four winners at Cheltenham in the last two years.

Son Richard has been there throughout the glory years, but admits nothing gets the blood pumping quite like a winner in the Cotswolds.

A general view of Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket
A general view of Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket (Joe Giddens/PA)

“I’ve always been brought up on the Flat essentially, as that is where our real business lies,” said Thompson.

“We’ve always strived to breed and race big Flat winners and to have winners at Cheltenham is more fairytale stuff, I suppose.

“I’ve been a Cheltenham regular over the years. Even when I was younger I’ve enjoyed going down to Cheltenham on the train for the Gold Cup – I was there when Dawn Run won and when Desert Orchid won.

“We’ve won some great races on the Flat, which has been fantastic, but the atmosphere at Cheltenham is beyond anything I have experienced at a racetrack in the UK, no question.

“Bringing in a winner at Cheltenham, with the atmosphere and noise, is incredible.”

Party Politics returns victorious in the 1992 Grand National
Party Politics returns victorious in the 1992 Grand National (John Giles/PA)

While Cheveley Park’s involvement in National Hunt racing is a relatively recent move, the Thompsons have had a strong link with the jumps game over the years, most notably with the 1992 Grand National hero Party Politics.

Thompson said: “Party Politics was probably the first really big winner. My father bought him as a birthday present for my mother two days before the National, so that will obviously occupy a big space in my memory bank.

“Dad always liked the jumps. We had a couple of runners in the National in the 1980s – Classified finished third (behind West Tip) in 1986 – and we’ve had a couple of other runners in the race

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“Dad always had a thing about the Grand National, as a lot of people do. It’s such a big race.”

It was in 2018 the family decided to extend their interest in jump racing – buying a small but select string of jumps horses to run in Cheveley Park’s easily identifiable red, white and blue colours.

Richard Thompson (centre) and his mother Patricia receive the trophy after Envoi Allen's victory at Cheltenham last year
Richard Thompson (centre) and his mother Patricia receive the trophy after Envoi Allen’s victory at Cheltenham last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Although their Flat horses are trained in Britain, a chance meeting between Richard Thompson and Willie Mullins ultimately led to the vast majority of the family’s jumpers plying their trade in Ireland.

“My father and I were chatting a few years ago and I said to him that if we wanted to buy some proper jumps horses, it would be better to buy them young and with more potential, as a lot of the horses we’d bought for the National had been older,” Thompson added.

“I was sitting next to Willie Mullins at the Sir Peter O’Sullevan lunch in 2017 and that Christmas was when dad and I started talking about buying some young jumps horses.

“Dad was obviously getting older, so he agreed that we’d give it a go and I certainly promoted Willie as a potential trainer, having had a good chat with him at the lunch.

“Off the back of that we said having a few horses with Willie and Gordon Elliott might be the way to go, and then Alex Elliott, who bought A Plus Tard for us, recommended Henry de Bromhead.

“That first batch of horses included Envoi Allen, Allaho and A Plus Tard and I think between all the horses we’ve bought they’ve won nine Grade Ones and four Cheltenham Festival races, which is remarkable really.

“We just thought it would be something different and a bit of a change. It’s worked out fantastically well for us.”

Envoi Allen has carried all before him so far
Envoi Allen has carried all before him so far (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The undoubted star of the squad is Envoi Allen, who has lived up to his expensive price tag of £400,000 with 11 straight wins, including back-to-back Festival wins in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

The seven-year-old will be considered one of the bankers of the whole week when he returns to Prestbury Park for the Marsh Novices’ Chase, and Thompson admits to feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement.

“It’s amazing the following that Envoi has got. It’s just fantastic to be associated with a horse like him,” he said.

“It’s a shame we won’t be there to see him this year, but in a funny way that actually takes a bit of the pressure off.

“Let’s just hope he can keep the run going.”

Joining Envoi Allen on the Cheveley Park squad bound for Cheltenham are A Plus Tard, Allaho, Ballyadam, Sir Gerhard and Quilixios.

Should one or more of the sextet roar up the famous hill in front, the success will be tinged with sadness, following David Thompson’s death at the age of 84 in early January.

Thompson said: “My father had tremendous pleasure watching these horses before he passed away. He couldn’t go to Cheltenham in 2019 or 2020 as it was hard for him to walk at that stage, but I know he got tremendous enjoyment out of watching it on television.

“My mum was there on the Wednesday last year and led Envoi Allen in after winning the Ballymore.

“Unfortunately none of us will be there this year because of Covid restrictions, so I’ll be watching the racing on TV with mum and my three sons, who do enjoy the racing as well.”

A Plus Tard is going for Gold Cup glory
A Plus Tard is going for Gold Cup glory (Niall Carson/PA)

A Plus Tard, who provided the owners with their first Festival success two years ago, is this season considered a leading contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following his last-gasp win in a thrilling Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December.

Thompson said: “That (Savills Chase) was fantastic and it was actually the last race my father ever watched, so it’s quite poignant.”

Ballyadam will be Cheveley Park’s first runner of the week in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, before Sir Gerhard bids to provide the team with a third successive win in Wednesdays Champion Bumper, following the triumphs of Envoi Allen and the currently-sidelined Ferny Hollow.

Allaho heads the betting for the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, while Quilixios will be in juvenile action.

Despite David Thompson’s death, his son insists there will be no let up in Cheveley Park’s bid for success in the coming years, both in the breeding shed and on the racecourse.

Allaho is another who will fly the flag for Cheveley Park at Cheltenham
Allaho is another who will fly the flag for Cheveley Park at Cheltenham (Niall Carson/PA)

He added: “It’s business as usual. My mother is still very much enjoying it and I love it.

“Cheveley Park will carry on and do what we’re hopefully not bad at doing, occasionally – breeding a few winners and having a few winners on the track.

“We’ve loved it as a family over the years. It’s given us great enjoyment and fulfilment and we intend to carry on.

“We’ve got around 120 horses in training, including the 16 jumpers. With my father not being around we’ll need to look at things a bit more carefully, but seeing the red, white and blue winning at Cheltenham and winning a few Grade Ones has been fantastic.

“It’s a shame my father’s not here to enjoy the next few years, but at least he was here for some of the success and hopefully there’ll be a good bit more to come.”

Quilixios camp yet to decide between Boodles and Triumph

A final decision on which race Quilixios will contest at the Cheltenham Festival will not be made until later this week.

The French import is unbeaten in three starts for owners Cheveley Park Stud – completing his hat-trick with a Grade One success in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last month.

He is set to make his debut for Henry de Bromhead after Cheveley Park decided to remove the eight horses they had in the care of Gordon Elliott following the photo of the Grand National-winning trainer sitting on a dead horse which emerged on social media.

But whether Quilixios contests the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle a week on Tuesday, or potentially clashes with former stable companion Zanahiyr in the JCB Triumph Hurdle three days later, remains uncertain.

“A decision on which race he’ll run in will be made later this week,” said Cheveley Park director Richard Thompson.

“He’s very exciting. We have big hopes for him longer term and view him as a long-term prospect.

“The Triumph may be a little bit too quick for him, but we’ll see what Henry thinks later in the week.

“We’re quite relaxed regarding which race he goes for – because while next week is important, we want to do what is right for the horse as it’s all about the longer term with him.”

Quilixios will be part of a six-strong Cheveley Park team heading to Cheltenham.

Envoi Allen and Ballyadam, who also joined De Bromhead last week, are bound for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Marsh Novices’ Chase respectively, while A Plus Tard is on course for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

From Willie Mullins’ yard, Allaho will carry the Cheveley Park silks in the Ryanair Chase, with Sir Gerhard – another former Elliott inmate – set to line up for the Champion Bumper.

“I haven’t had updates from Henry or Willie on the horses that moved last Tuesday. I’ll get those later in the week, I’m sure,” Thompson added.

“Henry and Willie are very experienced, so we hope the horses settle in. They’ve only moved up the road, so hopefully it’s not too bad.

“Of course it’s not ideal – no one wanted this situation.”

Kennedy ‘delighted’ to keep ride on Envoi Allen

Jack Kennedy has spoken of his relief at news he will keep the ride on Envoi Allen at the Cheltenham Festival, despite the unbeaten superstar being switched from Gordon Elliott to Henry de Bromhead earlier this week.

Leading owner-breeders Cheveley Park Stud removed Envoi Allen and seven of his stable companions from Elliott’s care on Tuesday, following the image involving the trainer that was posted and widely shared on social media last weekend.

Kennedy, who has taken over in the saddle from the injured Davy Russell aboard Envoi Allen this season, might have feared he would lose the plum ride on the seven-year-old to De Bromhead’s stable jockey Rachael Blackmore.

Envoi Allen has carried all before him so far
Envoi Allen has carried all before him so far (PA)

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However, Cheveley Park confirmed Kennedy will not only retain the mount when Envoi Allen in the Marsh Novices’ Chase in a fortnight’s time, but he will also partner Ballyadam and Quilixios – who have also joined Bromhead – for their respective Festival assignments.

Speaking after riding the Elliott-trained Daphne Moon to success at Fairyhouse on Friday, Kennedy told Racing TV: “I’m kind of a lucky one, getting to keep the rides on Envoi Allen, Quilixios and Ballyadam.

“When you’re riding horses like that and you’re kind of comfortable that barring an injury you’re going to be riding them, and then something like this happens, you’re kind of all over the place. I’m delighted that I’m keeping the rides on them.”

Kennedy has plenty of sympathy for his colleagues at Elliott’s Cullentra House stables, adding: “It’s tough for everyone in the yard.

“They were devastated when those horses were leaving and it’s just a massive blow to a team that work so hard.”

Minella Indo will be ridden by Jack Kennedy in the Gold Cup
Minella Indo will be ridden by Jack Kennedy in the Gold Cup (Brian Lawless/PA)

In another boost to his Festival hopes, Kennedy has been booked by De Bromhead to partner Minella Indo in the Gold Cup, with Blackmore preferring his Cheveley Park-owned stablemate A Plus Tard.

Minella Indo was last seen finishing fourth behind Kemboy when favourite for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

“I was kind of left with no ride in the race and Henry rang me last week and asked if I would ride him,” said the jockey.

“It’s brilliant to pick up a spin like that. I was down in Henry’s on Tuesday and popped him over a few fences and got a feel of him.

“I’m really looking forward to the ride. You can forgive a horse a bad run and I’m delighted to have got the ride.”

Envoi Allen settling in after high-profile move to Henry de Bromhead

Envoi Allen is reported to be settling in well after his move to Henry de Bromhead’s yard.

The unbeaten seven-year-old is arguably the most exciting National Hunt horse in training, having twice won at the Cheltenham Festival. He is three from three over fences since switching to the larger obstacles this season.

His high-profile transfer to De Bromhead’s Waterford stable came this week, as Cheveley Park Stud moved their horses from Gordon Elliott after an image of the County Meath trainer sitting on a dead horse emerged on social media at the weekend.

Envoi Allen has been foot-perfect so far over fences
Envoi Allen has been foot-perfect so far over fences (PA)

Also now with De Bromhead from Elliott in the Cheveley silks is smart four-year-old hurdler Quilixios, who enhanced his reputation with a Grade One victory at the Dublin Racing Festival, and fellow top-level scorer Ballyadam, who was last seen finishing second to Appreciate It at Leopardstown. Jack Kennedy is the regular partner of all three, and that is set to remain the case.

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De Bromhead said: “It’s obviously not the circumstances of how you’d like to get horses, but these are the horses everyone’s trying to get and I feel fortunate that Cheveley Park have decided to send them to us. The three that are entered for Cheltenham include Envoi Allen and he seems great.

“They came down and they looked great when they arrived here, so it’s just a case of trying to tick them over and not let the change of regime upset them too much. If we can do as good a job as Gordon has done with them, we’ll be delighted.

“They arrived on Tuesday evening, and we’re just letting them settle in. They’re cantering away. You wouldn’t be working them, but they’re hacking away and they’re great.”

Quilixios is a leading contender for the Triumph Hurdle
Quilixios is a leading contender for the Triumph Hurdle (Niall Carson/PA)

Quilixios has the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle as options, with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle set to be preferred for Ballyadam over the Ballymore, while Envoi Allen is hot favourite for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

De Bromhead said: “He’s a gorgeous horse and we feel very fortunate that Cheveley Park have sent him to us.

“Quilixios is in both the Fred Winter (Boodles) and the Triumph. I haven’t really firmed up on that as yet, so we’ll discuss that with Cheveley Park at the time and see what we’d like to do. He’s in both, so we’ll see nearer the time. Quilixios seems good. We’re only hacking away, but he seems to have taken it in his stride.

“I would imagine we’re leaning towards the Supreme with Ballyadam, but we’ll keep our options open.

“Jack has ridden him all year and he will ride the three of them if he is available.”

He added: “It is a big change for them and you try to keep it as simple as possible, but it is a big change.

“But they seem good and they’ve settled in really well, so we’ll just tick them over and try to get them there in good shape.”

De Bromhead looking forward to welcoming Cheveley Park team

Henry de Bromhead is looking forward to welcoming Envoi Allen to his yard following Cheveley Park Stud’s decision to take the unbeaten gelding and several of his stable companions out of training with Gordon Elliott.

Envoi Allen is arguably the most exciting National Hunt horse in training on either side of the Irish Sea, having won each of his 11 starts under rules, including back-to-back wins at the Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Having not put a foot wrong in three starts over fences this season, the seven-year-old will be widely considered one of the bankers of the week when he returns to the Cotswolds in a fortnight’s time for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

However, his preparations will be completed by De Bromhead following Cheveley Park’s announcement they were removing all eight horses they had in training with Elliott following the image of the trainer which emerged on social media over the weekend.

Envoi Allen during his latest victory at Punchestown
Envoi Allen during his latest victory at Punchestown (PA)

As well as Envoi Allen, De Bromhead will receive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender Ballyadam and Triumph Hurdle hope Quilixios, along with Malone Road and point-to-point winner Guily Billy.

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Speaking at Gowran Park on Tuesday afternoon, De Bromhead said he was hopeful the change of yard will not be detrimental to the horses’ chances at Cheltenham – and revealed Elliott has already offered to give any advice that is required.

He said: “They are obviously very exciting horses to be getting and we appreciate Cheveley Park sending them to us.

“We’ll let them settle in and see how they are. They will have done most of their serious work up to now and I’d say it’s a case of ticking over with them now, being so close to Cheltenham.

“I haven’t spoken to Gordon as yet about the horses, but he said he’d tell me whatever I need to know. I’ll ring him soon.”

Quilixios will also join De Bromhead
Quilixios will also join De Bromhead (Niall Carson/PA)

The late additions strengthen what was already a formidable De Bromhead squad bound for Cheltenham.

The Waterford trainer’s other big hopes include Champion Hurdle favourite Honeysuckle and Cheveley Park-owned Gold Cup contender A Plus Tard.

He said: “Touch wood, all our main hopes for Cheltenham seem in good form. I worked a few this morning and all went well.”

The three other Cheveley Park-owned horses previously trained by Elliott will be moved to Willie Mullins.

Sir Gerhard looks another top-class prospect for Cheveley Park Stud
Sir Gerhard looks another top-class prospect for Cheveley Park Stud (Gary Carson/PA)

The champion trainer already handles several horses for the owners, including last year’s Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow and Ryanair Chase hope Allaho, and has picked up Sir Gerhard and a pair of expensive point-to-point recruits in Classic Getaway and Grangeclare West.

The unbeaten Sir Gerhard is second in the betting for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham behind his new stablemate Kilcruit.

Mullins said: “Sir Gerhard is a nice type and we have also got a couple of unraced individuals.

“It’s not great circumstances, but that is it.”

Cheveley Park move horses from Gordon Elliott, as date announced for hearing

Cheveley Park Stud have removed all eight horses they have in training with Gordon Elliott, while the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has announced it will convene on Friday to hear the case related to the image of the Grand National-winning trainer sitting on a dead horse.

One of the most successful breeding and ownership operations in the sport, Cheveley Park are more renowned for their success on the Flat, but have ramped up their interest in National Hunt racing in recent years and already enjoyed multiple winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

The most notable is the brilliant Envoi Allen, arguably the most exciting horse in Elliott’s yard following back-to-back Festival wins in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in his unbeaten career to date.

However, with Elliott currently not be permitted to have runners in Britain until the conclusion of the IHRB investigation, Envoi Allen and several of his stable companions will be moved to Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins combined.

Cheveley Park director Richard Thompson told Sky Sports Racing: “We’ve made a decision this morning to move the horses from Gordon’s yard.

“We have eight horses (with Elliott) and they’ll go to Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins. That will be organised by Chris Richardson (Cheveley Park’s managing director) and the team. Logistics are in place and we’re organising it right now.”

Confirming plans for the team’s four Cheltenham Festival contenders, Thompson said Marsh Novices’ Chase favourite Envoi Allen will join De Bromhead, along with Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender Ballyadam and possible Triumph Hurdle hope Quilixios.

Sir Gerhard, who is set to put his unbeaten record on the line in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, will be trained by Mullins, who already houses the favourite for the race in Kilcruit.

Henry de Bromhead will train Envoi Allen
Henry de Bromhead will train Envoi Allen (PA)

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Thompson is hoping any affect to the horses’ training routines, with the Festival only a fortnight away, will be minimal.

He added: “Hopefully, with trainers like Henry and Willie and the Cheveley team headed by Chris, we’ve got real professionals on the job to hopefully be able to resolve this very quickly.

“It should be very smooth. That’s what we’re hoping for. It’s just very unfortunate timing, obviously.”

Thompson feels Cheveley Park ultimately had little option but to move the horses to other yards to ensure their reputation remained intact.

Quilixios is another Grade One winner on the move
Quilixios is another Grade One winner on the move (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “We had to consider what was happening (on Monday) with the building story and the backdrop of Cheveley’s reputation – in terms of maybe the most important British-owned racing and breeding operation in the UK.

“This reputation has been built up with various breeders and many people support us. We had to look at the situation in context of where Cheveley sit in the industry and our responsibility to the industry in Britain.

“It’s obviously very disappointing and extremely upsetting for the industry.

“People love horses and we, as a family, purchased Cheveley Park in 1975, so we’ve been racing and breeding for coming up to 46 years.

“I don’t know what the implications are longer term – I’m not close enough to the centre of the politics of racing and how it works between Britain and Ireland.

“All I know is, with my Cheveley Park Stud hat on, we had to take a decision as a board of directors to disassociate ourselves with Gordon at this time and do the right thing by the stud and by the industry.”

When asked if there was a possibility of Cheveley Park having horses with Elliott again in the long-term, Thompson added: “For the time being we’re moving the horses and that’s it.

“Obviously for Gordon, it’s a terrible time for him, but he’s made a terrible error of judgement, which he admits.

“I explained to him that we had to do the right thing by Cheveley Park and the right thing by our standing in the industry and what people expect of us.

“I’m not going to make a comment about long-term, but certainly in the short to medium term these horses will stay with Henry and Willie.”

While plans remain uncertain in such a fast-moving situation, Thompson expects Jack Kennedy to keep the ride on Envoi Allen at Cheltenham.

He said: “Envoi Allen has had Davy Russell and recently Jack Kennedy, and I personally would like to stick to continuity on retaining Davy and/or Jack, depending on injuries etc.

“With Envoi in particular, we want to stick to the previous relationships.”

Gordon Elliott faces an IHRB hearing on Friday
Gordon Elliott faces an IHRB hearing on Friday (Simon Cooper/PA)

Elliott has been “cooperating fully” with the IHRB since a photograph of him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops was posted on Twitter on Saturday night.

On Tuesday afternoon, the IHRB published a new statement on its Twitter account, which read: “The Referrals Committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is scheduled to convene on Friday 5th March to hear evidence and consider an investigation relating to Mr. Gordon Elliott (Trainer).”

Michael Grassick, chief executive of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, issued a statement saying Elliott had “let down” both himself and racing, while noting a “very difficult time” for the handler.

The statement said: “The IRTA utterly condemns the image that emerged over the weekend. As one of our most prominent and successful members, Gordon has a duty of care to his horses and this great sport but he has let down both himself and horse racing.

“However, we acknowledge his apology and recognise what is a very difficult time for him both professionally and personally.”

O’Leary will ‘continue to support’ Elliott despite ‘unacceptable’ photograph

Gigginstown House Stud and Ryanair owner Michael O’Leary will maintain his support for Gordon Elliott following the release of an image of the Grand National-winning trainer on social media.

While there were initial doubts about the authenticity of a photograph which was posted and widely shared on Saturday, Elliott confirmed in a statement late on Sunday evening that the image – which shows him sitting on a dead horse on the gallops – was in fact genuine.

Elliott said in his statement that he “cannot apologise enough”, and that he wanted to “apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused”, while seeking to explain the context of events that led to the picture.

The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has launched a full investigation, and a spokesman said on Monday that the matter will be dealt with “as quickly as possible”.

Gordon Elliott and Michael O'Leary with Tiger Roll
Gordon Elliott and Michael O’Leary with Tiger Roll (Brian Lawless/PA)

Through his Gigginstown operation, O’Leary has been one of Elliott’s biggest supporters – with the pair most notably combining to win two Randox Grand Nationals at Aintree with the hugely popular Tiger Roll.

In a statement issued on Monday, O’Leary – who together with Elliott also won the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack – described the photograph in question as “unacceptable”, but said he accepted the trainer’s “sincere, profound and unreserved apology”.

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The statement read: “Eddie (O’Leary, brother) and I were deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo which appeared on social media over the weekend.

“The care and welfare of all our animals comes first with all our trainers. Sadly, from time to time, our horses suffer injuries and/or fatalities and we expect all such cases to be treated with the care and attention they deserve.

“We have always found that animal welfare comes first, second and third at Cullentra. From the facilities, to the brilliant team of people led by Gordon, our horses are trained with no expense spared for their development, welfare and care.

“We accept that this photograph was a grievous but momentary lapse of judgement by Gordon, and not in keeping with our 15-year experience of his concern for and attention to the welfare of our horses.

“We all make mistakes, and what is important is that we learn from them and ensure we do not repeat them.

“We accept Gordon’s sincere, profound and unreserved apology and we will continue to support him and his team at Cullentra, as they work to recover from this deeply regrettable incident.”

Envoi Allen returning to the winner's enclosure at Cheltenham last year
Envoi Allen returning to the winner’s enclosure at Cheltenham last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Cheveley Park Stud will await the outcome of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board investigation before making any decisions on the future of the several high-profile horses they have in training with Elliott.

The hugely successful breeders and owners, more renowned for their success on the Flat, have ramped up their interest in National Hunt racing in recent years and have already enjoyed multiple big-race winners at the Cheltenham Festival.

The most notable is Envoi Allen, arguably the most exciting horse in Elliott’s yard following back-to-back Festival wins in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in his unbeaten career to date.

The seven-year-old is a hot favourite to win at Cheltenham for a third time in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on March 18.

Cheveley Park released a statement in which they said they were “horrified” and dismayed” by the image.

The statement read: “We are truly horrified and dismayed by the photograph doing the rounds on social media. However, we will await the official outcome of the investigation by the IHRB, which we trust will be swift, before making any further comment/decisions.”

Other horses Cheveley Park currently have in training with Elliott include Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender Ballyadam, unbeaten juvenile hurdler Quilixios and leading Champion Bumper contender Sir Gerhard.

Top stallion Pivotal retired from duty

Top-class sire Pivotal has been retired from stallion duty at the age of 28.

A standard bearer for his owners Cheveley Park Stud, his offspring include the likes of Addeybb, Farhh, Sariska and Dubai World Cup winner African Story.

A classy sprinter in his racing days, he won the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot and the Nunthorpe at York for Sir Mark Prescott.

He then went on to have a very successful second career, siring 32 Group One winners and also proving himself as a sire of sires with Siyouni producing a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner in Sottsass.

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Pivotal – by Polar Falcon, who won the Lockinge over a mile and the Haydock Sprint Cup – was also the Champion Broodmare Sire between 2017-2019, with his offspring being responsible for the likes of Love, Magical, Golden Horde and One Master.

Cheveley Park’s managing director Chris Richardson said in a statement: “The story associated with the ‘mighty’ Pivotal is truly extraordinary, considering he was the result of the very first covering his sire, Polar Falcon, was given.

“Thankfully, as a yearling, it was decided to retain him to race, rather than offer him for sale, as we did with the other yearling colts by Polar Falcon that year.

Sariska (left) beat Midday in the Oaks and went on to win the Irish version
Sariska (left) beat Midday in the Oaks and went on to win the Irish version (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Whilst in the hands of trainer Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal truly put Cheveley Park Stud on the map, giving owners David and Patricia Thompson their first Group One winner in the stud’s famous red, white and blue colours.

“Having covered a relatively small book of mares in his first year, his resulting progeny excelled and inspired at all levels, which they have continued to do throughout his career, both domestically and internationally.

Addeybb (left) has become a multiple Group One winner
Addeybb (left) has become a multiple Group One winner (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“On the world stage, Pivotal has excelled as a sire, a sire of sires and as a broodmare sire, to the highest level and all of us at Cheveley Park Stud have been so blessed to have been part of his life for 28 years.

“I think Triple Crown winner, Isinglass, whose stable Pivotal occupies, would have been very proud and we all wish Pivotal a well-deserved and happy retirement.”

Allaho leads charge for Mullins

Allaho leads a four-strong team for Willie Mullins in the rescheduled Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old has already been placed twice at the Cheltenham Festival, having finished third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the RSA Novices’ Chase, and is this year being targeted at the Ryanair Chase.

He will be a hot favourite for Wednesday’s Grade Two feature, which was originally due to be run last Sunday before the meeting was cancelled because of snow.

However, he lines up with something to prove – having failed to run up to expectations in both the John Durkan at Punchestown and Savills Chase at Leopardstown so far this season.

Chris Richardson, Cheveley Park’s managing director, said last week: “He’s a horse who has been difficult to get fit this season, and I’m hopeful we’ll see an improvement.

“Hopefully it will set him up for perhaps the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

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“He’s in good form, so let’s keep fingers crossed.”

Mullins also saddles Easy Game, Annamix and high-class mare Elimay – while Gordon Elliott, who landed back-to-back renewals of the race with his Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack in 2015 and 2016, relies on Battleoverdoyen.

The eight-year-old was an impressive winner of a Grade Two at Down Royal on his first start of the campaign, before finishing fourth in the John Durkan last month.

Elliott told Betfair: “We didn’t see the best of him in the Durkan Chase at Punchestown last time when he was a well-held fourth behind Min, and he seemed to be struggling a long way from home in that race.

“He is much better than he showed there, so I’m hoping for better, even though he has to shoulder a Grade One penalty.

“The ground may not be quite as testing as it was in Punchestown, and that could help – while at home he has been in good form for the last few weeks. I’m hoping to see him return to the promise he showed when winning a Grade Two in good style at Down Royal.”

Henry de Bromhead’s Balko Des Flos and Roy Tector’s outsider Turndownthevolume complete the line-up.

Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the Coolmore N.H. Sires Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase – a race Mullins won for the fourth time in the last six years with Elimay 12 months ago.

The Closutton handler again has a strong hand, with Limerick Grade One winner Colreevy joined by stable companion Yukon Lil.

Elliott is represented by Mount Ida, who finished third behind Yukon Lil on her chasing debut before landing a Grade Three prize at Cork in early December.

“She has made a bright start over fences,” Elliott added.

“I thought her chasing debut was encouraging, and she built on that to win a Grade Three at Cork early last month.

“There weren’t that many options for her over longer trips earlier in the season, which is why she campaigned over two miles, but I think this sort of distance could be ideal for her

“She is penalised for her Grade Three success, which won’t make life easy. But she is in good heart, and it might just help her that she has had a good interval since she last ran.

“If she runs her race I’d hope that she will be right there at the finish.”

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Scarlet And Dove and Declan Queally’s Western Victory also feature in a nine-strong field.

‘Next stop Cheltenham’ as Envoi Allen marches on

All roads lead back to the Cheltenham Festival for Envoi Allen following his latest demolition job at Punchestown.

Already a dual winner at the showpiece meeting, having won the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in the past two seasons, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding is this year bound for the Marsh Novices’ Chase – for which he is odds-on with most bookmakers.

Gordon Elliott’s charge appeared to face his toughest test over fences to date in conceding 11lb to Grade One-winning hurdler Asterion Forlonge earlier this month.

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However, the latter crashed out at the very first fence, leaving Envoi Allen clear to extend his unbeaten record under rules to 11 with the minimum of fuss.

Chris Richardson, Cheveley Park’s managing director, said: “It was a shame that the horse was never able to have a proper race, which is what we really wanted to do, rather than what ended up being a piece of work really.

“It was a bit of anti-climax in the end. We were hoping we’d have a bit of a race on our hands, but sadly it didn’t happen.

“He came out of the race fine and bouncing – he was having a ball in his field the next day, having a roll in the mud.

“He’s a very intelligent horse – he knows exactly what he’s up to – and we’re lucky to have him.

“Cheltenham is the next stop.”

Envoi Allen and Davy Russell return after winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last year
Envoi Allen and Davy Russell return after winning the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)

More renowned for success on the Flat, Cheveley Park Stud has become a formidable force in the National Hunt sphere in the last couple of years.

Envoi Allen is one of several leading hopes for the team at this year’s Festival, along with the likes of Cheltenham Gold Cup hope A Plus Tard and Champion Bumper favourite Sir Gerhard.

However, Richardson admits he will have mixed emotions watching the horses in action following the recent death of David Thompson, joint-owner of Cheveley Park along with his wife Patricia.

“The Flat is very much more my scene, but it’s been fantastic to be involved with the National Hunt horses,” he added.

“It’s obviously sad the boss isn’t here to watch the horses that he loved so much, and enjoy the new adventure he embarked upon.

“Let’s hope that they continue to do him proud.”

Allaho seeks to restate Festival credentials at Thurles

Allaho bids to get his season up and running as one of four runners for Willie Mullins in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles.

Twice placed at the Cheltenham Festival, having finished third in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the RSA Novices’ Chase, the seven-year-old has failed to run up to expectations in his two previous starts this winter.

Allaho was sixth of seven runners when a leading contender for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on his reappearance – and was again well-beaten when fourth behind fellow Cheveley Park Stud-owned star A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

He drops in distance and class for Sunday’s Grade Two feature in County Tipperary, on a card which must pass an 8am inspection – with snow and ice in the forecast.

Should the meeting go ahead, hopes are high that French import Allaho can show his true colours before a likely return to Cheltenham in March.

Chris Richardson, Cheveley Park’s managing director, said: “He’s a horse who has been difficult to get fit this season, and I’m hopeful we’ll see an improvement this weekend.

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“Hopefully it will set him up for perhaps the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

“He’s in good form, so let’s keep fingers crossed.”

Mullins also saddles Easy Game, Annamix and high-class mare Elimay – while Gordon Elliott, who landed back-to-back renewals of the race with his Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack in 2015 and 2016, relies on Battleoverdoyen.

The eight-year-old was an impressive winner of a Grade Two at Down Royal on his first start of the campaign, before finishing fourth in the John Durkan last month.

Elliott told Betfair: “We didn’t see the best of him in the Durkan Chase at Punchestown last time when he was a well-held fourth behind Min and he seemed to be struggling a long way from home in that race.

“He is much better than he showed there so I’m hoping for better, even though he has to shoulder a Grade One penalty.

“The ground may not be quite as testing as it was in Punchestown and that could help, while at home he has been in good form for the last few weeks. I’m hoping to see him return to the promise he showed when winning a Grade Two in good style at Down Royal.”

Henry de Bromhead’s Balko Des Flos and Roy Tector’s outsider Turndownthevolume complete the line-up.

Grade Two honours are also up for grabs in the Coolmore N.H. Sires Kew Gardens Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase – a race Mullins won for the fourth time in the last six years with Elimay 12 months ago.

The Closutton handler again has a strong hand, with Limerick Grade One winner Colreevy joined by stable companion Yukon Lil.

Elliott is represented by Mount Ida, who finished third behind Yukon Lil on her chasing debut before landing a Grade Three prize at Cork in early December.

Elliott added: “She has made a bright start over fences. I thought her chasing debut was encouraging, and she built on that to win a Grade Three at Cork early last month.

“There weren’t that many options for her over longer trips earlier in the season, which is why she campaigned over two miles, but I think this sort of distance could be ideal for her

“She is penalised for her Grade Three success, which won’t make life easy. But she is in good heart, and it might just help her that she has had a good interval since she last ran.

“If she runs her race I’d hope that she will be right there at the finish.”

The Joseph O’Brien-trained Scarlet And Dove and Declan Queally’s Western Victory also feature in a 10-strong field.