Envoi Allen in cruise control for perfect 10 in Drinmore
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.
“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.”
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.”