Envoi Allen in cruise control for perfect 10 in Drinmore

Envoi Allen cruised to victory and stretched his unbeaten record under Rules to 10 with a faultless performance in the BARONERACING.COM Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

Gordon Elliott’s superstar, already a dual winner at the Cheltenham Festival at the tender age of six, did not appear to put a foot wrong in the Grade One, jumping like an old handicapper in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

Only three were brave enough to take him on, with one of those his stablemate Coko Beach and the other two both trained by Joseph O’Brien.

Kennedy kept it simple and set out to make all – and everything went according to plan.

Rachael Blackmore and Assemble put it up to Envoi Allen approaching the second last – but if anything the scent of competition spurred the 2-11 favourite on, and he attacked the last two fences with vigour.

He popped the last on his way to an eight-and-a-half length success to build on his already sky-high reputation.

Betfair make him their 15-8 favourite for the Marsh Chase at Cheltenham in March.

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“A clear round is all you want, and Jack said he was foot perfect the whole way,” said Elliott.

“The second last can be tricky here, so he let him back on his hocks – and once he gave him a squeeze after that, it was all over.

“The one thing he did say is he’s having a good blow, so there’s plenty of improvement in him. He had to be fit coming here today, but there’s a lot of improvement in him.

“It’s nervous watching him. I watched with Noel Meade, like I do most races, but I was plenty nervous today.

“We didn’t think there’d be much pace, so it made sense to keep it simple. When he gets in a real race you’ll see the real horse – that will be Cheltenham.”

En route, Envoi Allen may take a brief mid-winter break.

Elliott added: “We might miss Christmas – we’re thinking about a race at Punchestown, a Grade Two in January, and then on to the Marsh. He has the pace for two miles, but we’ll keep him to his own division.

“Three miles wouldn’t be a problem, nor would two. He won the Royal Bond last year, but the Marsh will be his race.

“He’s getting stronger but also more laid-back. He’s very relaxed, hence the reason there might be more to come.

“Jack has had a few nasty knocks, but all the horses are here for him to ride. Obviously Davy Russell is out injured, and this is his ride, but Keith Donoghue rides him every day.

“No one else rides him – if something happened to Jack he’d be riding him.”

Envoi Allen with jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Drinmore Novice Chase
Envoi Allen with jockey Jack Kennedy after winning the Drinmore Novice Chase (PA Wire)

Kennedy was exhilarated as he reflected on Envoi Allen’s performance.

“He didn’t put a foot wrong again,” he said.

“He jumped great, and we only hacked around in front. When I asked him to go after the second last he fairly picked up and went down and pinged the last.

“Whether you’re long or short, it doesn’t matter on him. The way he picked up away from the second last is brilliant.

“He takes everything in his stride, and it doesn’t matter to him having to go and do the donkey work in front. He had a good blow today as well, and will come on plenty for that.

“That distance is probably best for him now. There is no point in getting the mileage up on him yet, because he’s still a young horse. Gordon knows exactly what to do, so we’ll leave it to him.”

Envoi Allen aiming to extend unbeaten run with Drinmore success

All eyes will be on Envoi Allen as the exciting prospect bids to confirm the impression of his impressive fencing debut in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

The Cheveley Park-owned six-year-old, trained by Gordon Elliott, lived up to his billing when successful at Down Royal last month, adding to his unbeaten tally under all codes.

Envoi Allen now steps into Grade One company over fences with connections only too aware of the pressure that goes with having a horse of such great potential.

“He’s unbeaten, he’s exciting and he’s in great form,” said Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud.

“In his last race he was so professional. He didn’t put a foot wrong.

“There’s nothing you can say about him at the moment except it gets a bit nerve-wracking on the basis that he keeps pulling out all the stops every time.

“He’s a most special horse.”

Elliott echoed those comments, telling Betfair: “With a horse like him, it’s always a great thrill every time they run. I suppose there’s always a bit of extra pressure with the likes of him, but at the same time I wouldn’t swap that feeling for anything.

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“When he was bought after winning his point-to-point, he was bought with a view to being a top-class chaser and that dream is still alive after his debut over fences at Down Royal last month. He never came off the bridle, which was nice to see, and I was also pleased to see the runner-up from that race go on and run well in a decent race at Naas last weekend. 

“From a form perspective I doubt anyone learnt anything about Down Royal, but his chasing technique was efficient and good and that is what you love to see from a horse having their first run over fences. 

“It was always the plan to come from Down Royal to Fairyhouse and he has been very well at home since making his comeback. He seems to be the same Envoi Allen as always and he’s just one of those horses that just takes everything in their stride and makes everything look easy. 

“The Drinmore will represent another step up the ladder in terms of his chasing career and, while it is a small field, I’m taking nothing for granted, but hopefully he will do what he has always done from day one. We’ve just very lucky to have one like him in the yard.”

Elliott feels Coko Beach deserves his chance, but has it all to do against his stablemate.

“I was very pleased with his first run over fences at Galway last month when he finished a good second to Pencilfulloflead, and that form already looks good with the winner having gone on to win a Grade Two,” said the County Meath handler.

“That run entitles him to take up his engagement here, but I would say he has his work cut out against Envoi Allen.”

Joseph O’Brien provides the only the opposition to the Elliott pair with Assemble and Home By The Lee, who have both yet to taste defeat over fences.

Ballyadam gives Elliott and Cheveley Park another big chance of Grade One glory in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

The five-year-old made a most promising hurdling debut when landing an 18-runner maiden event at Down Royal by 12 lengths.

“He’s done very well. He won very cosily at Down Royal and looks a particularly progressive horse,” said Richardson.

“It’s obviously going to be a big test stepping him up, but he certainly looks full of potential.”

Elliott, who also has One Down and The Very Man in the seven-strong field, said: “Our chief hope for this race is Ballyadam. Since he came to us from the point-to-point field, he has looked like a horse with Grade One potential and now is his chance to prove it.

“He ended last season with an impressive bumper win at Downpatrick, after which Jamie (Codd) was very excited by him and you’d have to be impressed with what he showed when winning his maiden hurdle at Down Royal last month.

“He did everything right that day and showed me that this was the obvious race to aim for with him. This race is going to require a career best, but there is plenty more to come from our horse and I’ll be disappointed if he’s not closely involved.”

Elliott knows the task facing his two other runners.

“One Down is a grand horse, who has already won over hurdles this season and he has since posted two solid efforts in defeat,” he said.

“He is up against it here, but he is in very good form and will enjoy the ground, so we will let him take his chance and see if can he pick up some of the minor money. 

“The Very Man will be having his last run in novice company as he loses his novice status after this weekend.

“He is a consistent and reliable type who should run his race and I could see him running creditably, but a few of these should be too strong for him.”

Noel Meade’s Cask Mate, Ted Walsh’s Dewcup, the Willie Mullins-trained N’golo and Henry de Bromhead’s Annexation make up the list.

Envoi Allen headlines entries for Drinmore Novice Chase

Unbeaten star Envoi Allen tops 18 entries for the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on November 29.

Gordon Elliott’s runner has yet to be headed in nine starts under rules – counting four Grade Ones in bumper company and over hurdles so far – and he made a victorious debut over fences when cantering home at Down Royal last week.

Envoi Allen could now move straight up to the highest level over fences and is one of eight entries for Elliott, along with the likes of Cheltenham Festival scorer Milan Native, and Andy Dufresne and Pencilfulloflead, winners over fences at Wexford and Galway respectively.

Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition was a Grade One winner over hurdles and he also made a winning start in chase company at Punchestown last month, making him the chief rival to Envoi Allen.

Honeysuckle was a nine-length winner of last year’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle and Henry de Bromhead’s charge has been entered to defend her crown, with a total of 12 horses given the option at this stage.

Willie Mullins has entered three, one-time Champion Hurdle favourite Saldier, Cheltenham Festival winner Saint Roi and last year’s Hatton’s Grace second Bacardys, with Elliott also putting in a trio of possibles in Sire Du Berlais, Cracking Smart and Fury Road.

Beacon Edge and Sixshooter are there for Noel Meade along with Matthew Smith’s Ronald Pump and Jessica Harrington’s multiple Grade One winner Supasundae.

Envoi Allen got the better of his own stable companion Abacadabras to win last year’s Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and Elliott holds a strong hand again, with Ballyadam, Call Me Lyreen and Eskylane among his team of seven.

Mullins provides nine of the 26 entries, including Cheltenham Festival winner Concertista, Finest Evermore and N’golo.

Cask Mate is one of three entries for Meade and the Ted Walsh-trained Dewcup is also in the early line-up.