Weekend Takeaways: Seismic Sunday for Envoi Allen


Joseph O'Brien had three winners as Fairyhouse were treated to a pulsating day of Grade 1 racing

Sunday, December 01, 2019
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Cheltenham Bumper winner Envoi was imperious at Fairyhouse


A stacked Sunday at Fairyhouse with three back-to-back Grade 1 races delivered a slew of gripping storylines, writes Tom Harle.

Here are five key takeaways from the weekend’s action.

Six of the best for Envoi

When it comes to novice hurdling, we’ve never had it so good.

Envoi Allen is shaping up as a horse for the ages and a Royal Bond romp means he’s now heavily fancied to contend for high honours at Cheltenham again.

Last year’s Champion Bumper winner was slashed for the Ballymore and the Supreme, prevailing after an early dispute with Joseph O’Brien’s Embittered.

“He sticks to his regular people around him and can be tricky,” said pilot Davy Russell. “But once he gets going, he’s very mannerly to ride.”

“We think Envoi Allen is the real thing,” added Gordon Elliott.

"The one thing that could beat him is a slow pace, and we had to do all our own donkey work. His jumping was class.”

‘Ell of a day

The Royal Bond was a great race all round for Elliott, with Envoi’s Gigginstown stablemate Abracadabras running well for second.

But beams turned to grimaces as Samcro crashed on the penultimate fence in the Drinmore Novice Chase, tempering talk the seven-year-old is back to his very best.

The short-priced favourite looked a million dollars over the sticks at Down Royal last month but faltered on the second from last here, going home without Jack Kennedy.

"It would have been interesting,” said Elliott, after Samcro was reported to be doing fine.

“Jack said he couldn't have been happier - but jockeys always say that when they fall, don't they?!"

O’Brien does the business

Samcro’s slip left Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D'oudairies to claim a comfortable Drinmore victory on chasing debut.

Guided by Mark Walsh, the gutsy four-year-old went out quick and was duly rewarded, coming down from 7s to 4s for the Arkle.

"He has a fantastic aptitude for racing, and every day he's enthusiastic about his work and schooling,” said O’Brien, who could send Fakir to Leoparstown next.

“He's a proper racehorse, and we are very lucky to have him.”

Sweet Sunday for Honeysuckle

You know you’ve performed well when your trainer admits he could sit back and enjoy the final lengths of a Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

That’s exactly what the Fairyhouse hordes were treated to from Honeysuckle, a six from six worldie now favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Sent off as favourite, Honeysuckle drove clear after the penultimate jump and was allowed a minor mistake on the final fence, expertly handled by Rachael Blackmore.

"She was brilliant, and even I could enjoy it a bit," said De Bromhead. “That’s why we’re all in it, for a special mare like her.”

Rotten Apple’s

What ails Apple’s Jade? She was far from a fourth Hatton’s Grace victory and is now without a win since February.

It’s worth saying the ten-time Grade 1 winner is still seven but Gordon Elliott’s patience is being sorely tested.

Jack Kennedy did what he could be Apple’s showed little sign of shaking off the form that saw her beaten by Bacardys in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

Jack said he couldn't have been happier - but jockeys always say that when they fall, don't they?

- Gordon Elliott after Samcro's fall

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