Envoi Allen has chance to follow in illustrious footprints in Navan finale
Cheveley Park Stud look to continue reaping dividends from jumps investment
Envoi Allen with Gordon Elliott at the trainer’s yard in Longwood, Co Meath. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
A striking feature of the jumps campaign so far has been the major investment in young horses by Cheveley Park Stud and a potential hat-trick this weekend could underline it.
The Newmarket-based stud is one of flat racing’s most powerful operations although its owners, David and Patricia Thompson, also famously owned the 1992 Grand National hero, Party Politics.
Their decision to invest heavily in young National Hunt horses and send them to some of the jump game’s top trainers in both Ireland and Britain has had an immediate impact this season.
The £325,000 purchase Malone Road made such a big impression in two starts for Gordon Elliott that he’s still on top of most ante lists for the Cheltenham Champion Bumper despite a knee injury.
With him on the sidelines it is another expensive purchase from the point-to-point field that sports Cheveley Park’s familiar red colours in Sunday’s Future Champions Bumper at Navan.
Envoi Allen cost Cheveley Park £400,000 after winning a point to point and his racecourse debut was eagerly anticipated at Fairyhouse at the start of the month.
Despite appearing to run very green, Envoi Allen did enough to win and apparently enough to earn a position behind his stable companion for Cheltenham despite Elliott immediately ruling out a festival tilt this season.
It looks significant though that Envoi Allen pitches up in a Listed contest with an entirely appropriate title.
Elliott has won the race for the last three years including with Samcro in 2016. No less than his subsequent Gold Cup hero Don Cossack also put up a spectacular performance to win it in 2011.
Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team is this time represented by two contenders including Run Wild Fred who is also trained by Elliott. They are among a number of runners with significant potential for the future.
Envoi Allen will have to have learned a lot for his Fairyhouse experience to come out on top against them. But that performance, not to mention his purchase price, indicates a horse of major promise.
The Thompsons went to 300,000 Guineas at the sales to pick up Lethal Steps who will make his jumping debut at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
The ex-Ger Lyons trained horse was a good two year old and raced on the flat off a peak mark of 102.
That’s the sort of rating that would make it no surprise if he emerges as a Triumph Hurdle contender in March although he faces an interesting opponent in Farid on Saturday. The JP McManus-owned runner won his sole French start in April over a mile and a half before joining Willie Mullins.
Cheveley Park’s third weekend contender goes in the Fairyhouse finale and Larquebuse also has a Mullins newcomer to take on in the well-bred Fasola Tido. Larquebuse however does have the benefit of a winning point to point appearance last Spring.
The combination combined to win last weekend’s Hilly Way Chase with Castlegrace Paddy and Dunvegan is a dual-bumper winner with vital hurdles experience already under his belt.
Getareaon is Townend’s ride in Navan’s Grade Two novice hurdle highlight on Sunday which looks to leave Easy Game as the Willie Mullins No. 1. Ruby Walsh keeps faith with the horse he excelled on in last month’s Monksfield Hurdle over the course and distance.
Mullins and Elliott have dominated this race over the last seven years and have five of the nine runners between them. A forecast of over an inch of rain before racing could prove significant although it might still pay to keep on the side of Joseph O’Brien’s Rhinestone.
If it’s possible to win snugly by a short head then the former smart bumper performer looked to do that on his hurdling debut at Naas.