CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL NEWS: THIRD GRADE ONE FESTIVAL SUCCESS FOR ENVOI ALLEN AS HE TRIUMPHS IN RYANAIR CHASE
Thursday 16th March
Envoi Allen added to his Festival wins in the 2019 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and 2020 Ballymore Hurdle when victorious in this year’s Ryanair Chase.
For owner Cheveley Park Stud, it was a third consecutive win the Ryanair Chase following Allaho in 2021 and 2022.
Winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said: “It is brilliant for the Thompsons and I’m delighted for them as they are great supporters of ours and the industry. It is just brilliant. I kept saying it to Richard (Thompson) that he was good as he was before going to Kempton (for the King George). I was really happy with him but he just never showed up. 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. We’ve tried to leave no stone unturned but whatever we are doing now seems to be working which is great. The amount of people that have travelled over, friends and family, that have come over for Jack (de Bromhead’s) race, is great and what Michael O’Leary and Ryanair have done for us is incredible. Everyone has looked after us so well. I’d say most of the people up there are my friends and family.
“I was really happy as he was tanking through the race. He was jumping so well. Rachael was worried at the start that he might have been doing too much. He is a class horse and it is great to see him back.
“I’m not sure what we do (going forward). 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. We will see what we do next and just enjoy today.”
Winning jockey Rachael Blackmore said: “He travelled and jumped really well today. I thought early on he was in my hands for quite a while - it just took me a while to settle him - but then he switched off going past the stands and he was lovely then, he was lobbing away. And I was able to fill him up three out. He put in a phenomenal performance, but I don’t think it's a surprise to anyone - he’s a supremely talented horse and it’s fantastic that Henry [de Bromhead] got the day out of him today.
“Ryanair are so kind to name their mares’ novices hurdle after Jack [de Bromhead], such a kind gesture by them, so it is great to be able to win their race today.
“I actually got a nice clear passage - I didn’t find problems anywhere.
“He was so disappointing the last day - going to Kempton we were really happy with him, and he was equally as good coming here today, so we were hoping the last day, whatever was wrong, he just didn’t perform, but we’ve been really happy with him all season. It’s a great team effort down there in Knockeen and it’s been a tough year for everyone, but everyone in the yard is a properly good grafter and it’s great to be associated with them.
“A Plus Tard hasn’t had the greatest preparation coming into the Gold Cup, but he’s in great form and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Richard Thompson, of successful owners Cheveley Park Stud, said: “I didn’t see that coming. Henry said he was in good form but he said he was in good form before the King George. One wasn’t too hopeful. I walked away disappointed from the King George as we went there with what we thought was a good chance. He never got into the race. He was very tired when he got back from the King George but today is incredible and he won that well.
“I thought Shishkin would definitely win today and we would finish third. It was probably at the second last I thought we had a chance. It was a superb ride by Rachael. He has come back well. He has won at Cheltenham twice before, as you know, then he fell in the Brown Advisory, so that is great today to win the Ryanair.
“We have won it the last two years with Allaho and we really thought he was our big hope but this is fantastic to see. I still couldn’t quite believe it until after the last when he jumped away from the field and he really won it well. I certainly did (give it some celebrating) and you have got to at Cheltenham. Henry said he was in good form coming into it but you had to be cautious as over the last couple of years here he has been erratic. We were hopeful of a decent run but not as good as this. He was the horse that was the second coming when he won the bumper here and the Ballymore but to come back and win the Ryanair is fantastic.”
Nico De Boinville, jockey of the runner-up Shishkin (Evens Favourite), said: “It never really went right from when the tape went up. Even when we were at the start he was just curling up on me a bit and going back on his haunches a bit and over the first two he just wasn’t taking me anywhere. At Ascot I was able to jump and travel and dictate where I wanted to be, whereas this time I was pushed here there and everywhere.
“Davy (Russell, on Fury Road) was trying to push me out into the car park so I had to switch inside him and try and get a run-up there. He was hanging a bit left from there and he just wasn’t the same horse as he was at Ascot. We know what he can do so we’ll get him home and check him over and get him absolutely spot on and I’m sure we’ll be going three miles at Aintree.
“It certainly felt a bit like last year over the first two and I was just thinking ‘Oh God’, but all credit to the horse. He’s very genuine, he’s made an error down the hill and he’s managed to sneak back into second. He had every right to be pulled-up or tailed off so he’s a very bad horse and we know what he can do on his good days so there will be plenty more to come.”
Paul Nicholls, trainer of third home Hitman, said: "That was probably a career best performance and we are delighted with it. He will now go to Aintree over two and a half miles and I think he will be better suited by the flat track there.”
Mouse Morris, trainer of fourth home French Dynamite, said: "We will see how he comes out of this race and make a decision about what's next. The options are a two and a half mile Graded race at Fairyhouse next month or wait until the end of April for Punchestown."
2.50pm Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4½f
- Envoi Allen 13-2
- Shishkin EvensF
- Hitman 22-1
Distances: 2¾, nk
Time: 5m 12.31s
14th winner at The Festival for jockey Rachael Blackmore
20th winner at The Festival for trainer Henry de Bromhead
11th win at The Festival for owner Cheveley Park Stud