Co. Meath trainer Gordon Elliott blew a sigh of relief after Envoi Allen won the opening race on day two of The Cheltenham Festival, the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
“He was our best chance of the week and everyone was here to see him,” said Elliott after Envoi Allen (4/7f) beat his stable companion Easywork (12/1) by four and a quarter lengths, with The Big Getaway (9/1) finishing third a further three and three-quarters of a length in arrears.
Elliott added: “I was nervous the whole way through the race. If I had picked the wrong race, I was going to blame him. This was the big one for the week. He is the people’s horse and everyone wanted him to win. He is eight from eight now. I thought Davy had given them too much lead coming down the hill but he knew the horse well – he does what he has to. The horse jumped and stayed.
“He stays, he jumps and was bought to be a three-mile chaser. I think that is what he is going to be, but we will have to discuss next season with his owners. We have a few nice novices, and this one will go to Punchestown.”
Envoi Allen was given a 6/1 quote for next year’s Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase and is quoted at 10/1 for the Grade 1 RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase and the Grade 1 Racing Post Arkle Trophy.
1.30pm Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
1 Envoi Allen (Cheveley Park Stud) Gordon Elliott 6-11-07 Davy Russell 4/7f
2 Easywork (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott 6-11-07 Rachael Blackmore 12/1
3 The Big Getaway (Marie Donnelly) Willie Mullins 6-11-07 Paul Townend 9/1
Distances: 4¼, 3¾