Davy Russell and Envoi Allen to be reunited at Down Royal

42-year-old regains ride on DeBromhead’s star as he returns to action on Saturday

Davy Russell and Envoi Allen will be reunited at Down Royal on Saturday. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/Getty

Davy Russell and Envoi Allen will be reunited at Down Royal on Saturday. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/Getty

 

Davy Russell has regained the ride on Envoi Allen and will be on board the horse when he returns to action at Down Royal on Saturday.

Russell rode Envoi Allen to four victories over hurdles during a memorable novice campaign that culminated in Cheltenham Festival success in the 2020 Ballymore Novice Hurdle.

However the serious neck injury that the former triple-champion jockey sustained in October of last year meant Jack Kennedy stepped in for the ride on the highly rated star when he switched to fences.

Envoi Allen won his first three starts over the bigger obstacles – and stretched his unbeaten streak to 11 – before a dramatic spill at Cheltenham in the Marsh Chase.

That was his first start for Henry De Bromhead having been moved from Gordon Elliott by owners Cheveley Park Stud.

Rachael Blackmore replaced Kennedy at the Punchestown Festival where Envoi Allen was pulled up. He was found to have chipped a joint through the race which necessitated surgery.

De Bromhead, who earlier this month reported Envoi Allen to be “schooling brilliantly,” has left Envoi Allen among seven entries for the Grade Two Join Racing TV Chase at Tuesday’s acceptance stage.

The Co Waterford trainer confirmed on Tuesday: “Davy Russell will ride Envoi Allen. Davy rode the horse all through his hurdles career and I think it was always the plan for him to be reunited with the horse once he came back.”

It is a major boost for Russell, 42, who returned to action last month after almost a year out of the saddle during which time there was persistent speculation that his career might even be over.

Now he can anticipate being reunited with an enigmatic star whose once sky-high reputation has dimmed somewhat but is still a subject of fascination for much of the racing public.

Envoi Allen has been giving encouraging signs at home and Cheveley Park’s managing director Chris Richardson said: “He is in good heart. He schooled well, and Saturday looks right for him. It’s a bit of a nerve-racking one. Let’s hope he gets round alright and safely.”

De Bromhead’s Gold Cup hero Minella Indo is also set to return to action at Down Royal on Saturday in the first Grade One prize of the National Hunt campaign. He will once again be ridden by Jack Kennedy.

As the winner of steeplechasing’s ‘Blue Riband’ at Cheltenham in March, the De Bromhead-trained star is assured of top-billing in the €125,000 Ladbrokes Champion Chase.

He will have a maximum of half a dozen opponents after Tuesday’s acceptance stage which also saw the top English star Frodon left in contention. Gordon Elliott has three entries left in a race he has already won four times.

Kennedy stepped in for the ultimate ‘spare’ ride at Cheltenham in March after Blackmore opted to ride A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup and will maintain the partnership on Saturday.

“Jack said he is free to ride so the plan is for him to ride Minella Indo,” De Bromhead said.

Minella Indo has been installed an odds-on favourite by some bookmakers to make a winning return.

His biggest threats according to ante-post betting lists are Frodon and Galvin, the Cheltenham Festival winner, who Russell rode to win a Grade Three at Punchestown earlier this month.

Ground conditions at Down Royal are currently yielding but with up to 13mms of rainfall anticipated on Wednesday alone.

This weekend’s programme in Ireland reflects the changing of the seasons with top-flight jumps action followed by the conclusion of the 2021 flat campaign on turf at Naas.

One jockey forced to miss out at Naas is veteran rider Kevin Manning who broke a collarbone in a fall at Galway on Monday.

Manning fell from Dublin Journal after about a furlong of the handicap won by Pita Pinta. The stewards tried to hold an enquiry into the incident but Manning was unable to attend and so the matter was referred to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board’s chief executive for further investigation.

“I have broken the collarbone. It’s one of those things. I was unlucky but lucky at the same time,” said Manning on Tuesday. He anticipates being out of action for up to six weeks.

Sunday will see Colin Keane officially crowned champion jockey for a third time with a record-breaking total of winners.

There could also be an appearance by last year’s Irish Derby winner Santiago in the Listed Finale Stakes. The horse was last seen finishing fourth to Trueshan in the Goodwood Cup.

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