Henry de Bromhead glory at Cheltenham Festival

Envoi Allen

Three is the magic number for Envoi Allen as the nine-year-old comfortably took the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival for Henry de Bromhead.

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The former Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Champion Bumper winner had finished 51 lengths behind Bravemansgame in the King George at Christmas, however, the fan-favourite bounced back to form on Thursday to take secure his eighth Grade 1 contest.

The victory gave trainer de Bromhead his third winner of the week following success with Honeysuckle on day one and Maskada on day two.

“I kept saying it to Richard (Thompson, owner) that he was good as he was before going to Kempton (for the King George) and I was really happy with him but he just never showed up,” explained the Gold Cup-winning trainer.

“I had three, A Plus Tard, himself, and Arctic Bresil that came over here (earlier in the season) and they were all disappointing, but he was in such good form at home (ahead of today) and everyone was delighted with him – I was hoping he would put his best foot forward and he duly did.”

The future is still very much open as to what they do with Envoi Allen next, as he continued: “I’m not sure what we do – he stayed three miles and the Gold Cup is the race. I’d say if A Plus Tard wasn’t in it, he would have possibly run in it, but we will see what we do next and just enjoy today.”

The day of surprises continued into the following race as two-time Cheltenham Festival winner Sire Du Berlais returned to his glorious self and won the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle.

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He beat Dashel Drasher by just under a length, however, the placings between the second and third were reversed after the stewards’ deemed there to have been an interference between the third-placed Teahupoo, who went off as the 9/4 favourite.

“We were kind of training him for the Pertemps but he came over here to qualify and for some reason, he didn’t run,” said owner JP McManus. “I don’t think he travelled over well or something so Gordon didn’t run him and as a result, he has ended up in the Stayers’ Hurdle. I thought he had a little chance.

“I’ve not had too many 33/1 winners old but old Creon (2004 Pertemps Final 50/1) won at a big price and Kadoun (2006 Pertemps Final 50/1) but this one I’m afraid went unbacked but still we will just enjoy it just the same.

“You better ask somebody else why he is so good around Cheltenham and Gordon has done some job on him.”

Despite a 5-2 thrashing from the Irish on the day, British champion trainer Paul Nicholls began the day in flying form by landing the Grade 1 Turners Novices’ Chase with Stage Star for the Owners Group and jockey Harry Cobden.

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The success was Nicholls’ first win in three renewals of the Festival and he enjoyed every minute of the race, as he said: “We’ve had a great time here over the years but it is hard to get those horses back but we are building them up again.

“We have got heaps like him to come through and I think the next few years will be positive. It is hard to win here and we haven’t got the numbers the Irish trainers have and we are up against it all the time but we can only do our best.

“I thought travelling into the straight he was going well and I knew what Harry (Cobden) was doing but to go and win like that from a horse that we started in bumpers, which is a new thing we do to bring horses through, was fantastic. It is good for everybody at home and Harry.

“He will be aiming for the Ryanair next year and that is what I’ve always thought – he would get three miles but he has got plenty of boot and he jumps well – but I was always hoping he might be a Ryanair horse after his last run but he had to win today to be a Ryanair horse.”

The only other British winner on the day came through Jamie Snowden’s You Wear It Well in the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, a horse that Snowden admitted he was looking forward to running and she duly obliged for connections.

A tilt at the Mares’ Hurdle next year could be on the cards, as he said: “We have followed the Love Envoi route so far, Honeysuckle is retiring, and she is going to want a trip.

“She will jump a fence in time – she jumps great – but we will enjoy today and see where we go.”

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