Imperious Envoi Allen cruises to victory in Drinmore Novice Chase

Trio of opponents fail to worry odds-on favourite who makes all under Jack Kennedy

 

Envoi Allen maintained his serene progress to the top of the jumping game by stretching his unbeaten record to 10 races at Fairyhouse’s Winter Festival on Sunday.

In the context of a lucrative four-timer for his trainer Gordon Elliott on the first multiple Grade One programme of the season, Envoi Allen’s untroubled victory in the Bar One Drinmore Novice Chase was more exhibition than competition.

Against three demonstrably inferior opponents the 2-11 favourite made all to win as he liked under Jack Kennedy.

But if the substance of the form is negligible, the style was enough to inject a frisson of excitement into a hollow behind-closed-doors occasion about what the future might hold for the most exciting young talent in the sport.

Racing history is littered with young stars that fizzle out. But when even Elliott cannot conceal his excitement it suggests he realises better than anyone he’s dealing with something exceptional.

“He is a horse of a lifetime, a superstar, and we’re very lucky to have him,” he said afterwards.

Immediate post-race exultation can always help provoke extravagant claims and Elliott famously regretted gushing about his subsequent Gold Cup hero Don Cossack when he was a youngster.

He has also, and justifiably, pinned the superstar label to his dual-Grand National champion Tiger Roll.

Nevertheless there was a notable bullishness about his claim that “when he gets a real race you’ll see the real horse”. And the Co Meath trainer added that plenty improvement is on the way too ahead of a potential third Cheltenham festival success in March.

A tilt at the Arkle or the RSA will be ignored in favour of the Marsh Novice Chase over the intermediate 2½-mile trip.

Allied to a proposed low-key warm-up for that task in a Grade Three at Punchestown in January, it smacks of a programme designed with more than one eye firmly on the longer-term future.

Like Envoi Allen, Ballyadam is an expensive purchase off the point-to-point circuit by Cheveley Park Stud and he followed in his older stable companion’s footsteps with victory in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.

If anything Ballyadam looks to have more natural two-mile pace and that came to the fore in a tactical event in which the 8-15 favourite jumped sketchily at times.

Gordon Elliott rebounds

At the line Ballyadam had a length-and-a-half in hand of Cask Mate and was cut to 6-1 favourite for Cheltenham’s Supreme Novices Hurdle by some layers.

“He made a couple of mistakes but recovered from them well so he’ll have learned plenty from today,” said Kennedy.

“It was steadily run and we sprinted down to the second lad. My lad has plenty of gears and I was always happy he was doing enough so I didn’t knock him around,” added the jockey.

Kennedy had earlier had another armchair spin in the Grade Three Juvenile Hurdle when Zanahiyr made it two from two over flights with a spectacular defeat of the odds-on Saint Sam.

It was a first graded victory for the winner’s owners, Valerie and Noel Moran, the Navan based business people who reportedly netted €226 million when selling their Prepaid Financial Services business last year.

“He’ll probably want another run before the Triumph so he could go to Leopardstown at Christmas or February. We’ll try and keep him and Quilixios apart as long as we can. That’s very important for Noel and Valerie. They’re big investors in the game,” said Elliott.

After a frustrating Saturday when he had five seconds, Elliott bounced back with a vengeance and secured a fourth winner with Grand Paradis in the bumper.

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