Cheltenham: Rachael Blackmore guides Envoi Allen to Ryanair Chase success

Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham Festival run of form continued on Thursday

Reminders of the poignant context are never far away, but Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham Festival fortunes continued to soar on Thursday after Envoi Allen’s Ryanair Chase success.

Thirteen years after his first success here, the Co. Waterford trainer took his festival tally to 20 as Rachael Blackmore guided the 13-2 winner to a decisive defeat of the evens favourite Shikshkin.

Carrying the same Cheveley Park colours as Allaho, winner in the previous two years, Envoi Allen, the horse once acclaimed as the game’s next big thing, came up trumps when it counted.

On a day when de Bromhead’s 13-year-old son Jack, killed in a pony race fall in September, was remembered in the Mares novice hurdle retitled by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, the significance of this latest victory was lost on no one.


From a purely racing perspective though the outcome was a real feather in de Bromhead’s cap.

Having been entrusted with the horse in the wake of Gordon Elliott’s license suspension in 2021, Envoi Allen proved notably frustrating. A Grade 1 success at Down Royal in November suggested a resurgence only for the horse to barely raise a gallop in the King George at Christmas.

“I had three, A Plus Tard, himself and Arctic Bresil that came over here (earlier in the season) and they were all disappointing,” pointed out the trainer who’d already struck twice this week through Honeysuckle and Maskada.

“But he was in such good form at home 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,” he added.

The stable’s run of form saw support in the betting markets for A Plus Tard’s Gold Cup chances on Friday.

Shishkin’s trainer Nicky Henderson appreciated the circumstances too and pointed out: “We all thought Envoi Allen was the greatest horse ever a couple of years ago. He was the second coming and they’ve done really well to get him back.”

Hopes of a perfect outcome with a de Bromhead winner of the race named after his son came to nothing as the 16-1 English horse You Wear It Well came through to score.

Co. Cork born jockey Gavin Sheehan powered the Jamie Snowden trained winner to a two and three quarter success over Magical Zoe. De Bromhead’s Foxy Girl, well supported in the betting, got closest to a perfect result in eighth.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column