19 March 2023

Punchestown consideration for Love Envoi ‘if she’s bouncing’

19 March 2023

Noel Fehily was delighted with Love Envoi, who produced a career best when going down on her shield to Honeysuckle at the Cheltenham Festival.

A Festival hero for Harry Fry and the Noel Fehily Racing Syndicate in 2022, the seven-year-old headed back to Prestbury Park having won eight of her nine career starts and on the back of an emphatic 13-length success at Sandown in January.

Sent off at 11-1 in the hands of Johnny Burke, Love Envoi proved she was well worth her place in a red-hot renewal of the Mares’ Hurdle on the opening day – and having led Honeysuckle along at the head of proceedings, became embroiled in a titanic tussle with the two-time Champion Hurdle heroine in the closing stages.

The pair could not be separated jumping the final flight and although Love Envoi gave way to Henry de Bromhead’s departing superstar in the final 100 yards, Fehily believes his mare only enhanced her reputation in defeat and the result is proof she is still on an upwards curve.

“She ran an absolute blinder,” said the former Festival-winning jockey.

“All she does is improve every run. I think it’s fair to say Tuesday was her best performance to date. I thought Sandown the last day was her best performance before that, so she just seems like she is getting better every time and she never lets us down every time she goes on to a racecourse.”

“We were very happy with her heading into the Festival, her preparation went very well. All the best mares stood their ground and it was a really hot race.

“I thought for a second when she landed after the last she might get there, but Honeysuckle was a hard champion to beat and if you are going to get beaten by one I suppose that was the most acceptable one to get beat by.

“It was one of the races of the Festival and to see the two of them come over the last together neck and neck, it was just a fantastic race to be a part of.”

With options limited for mares in the closing months of the season, a trip to Ireland for the Grade One Mares’ Hurdle (April 29) won last year by Marie’s Rock could be on the cards providing she recovers sufficiently from her huge Cheltenham effort.

“It would only be Punchestown really – the mares’ race there,” continued Fehily when pondering Love Envoi’s next move.

If she's bouncing we'll consider Punchestown, if she's not we'll put her away for next season

“But we will see how she is in a few days. She had a very hard race the other day and we’ll just see how she is. If she’s bouncing we’ll consider Punchestown, if she’s not we’ll put her away for next season.”

Meanwhile, there is no rush to get Tahmuras to Aintree following his disappointing showing in the Supreme’ Novices Hurdle – with novice chasing next term already in the back of connections’ minds.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Tolworth Hurdle winner was a leading fancy for the Festival opener, but struggled to make his presence felt and finished a well-held 10th of the 14 runners.

“He probably under performed a little bit,” added Fehily.

“I’m not sure if he maybe didn’t act on the track, but we probably didn’t see the best of him.

“He probably wasn’t good enough either, but I think he is better than what he showed on the day.

“I spoke to Paul Nicholls and he said he would see how he is through the week and if anything comes to light. But he is better than what we saw anyway.”

On future plans, he continued: “He might be done for the year – I’m not sure. We’ll have to see how he comes out of the race before we decide if we go to Aintree or not with him.

“We will be minding him for a novice chase campaign next year, so if he goes to Aintree or not isn’t the be-all and end-all. He’s probably had a busy enough year and we’ll see how he is in the week and then make a plan whether we run again or put him away for next season.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox