Daragh Ó Conchúir
Let’s not downplay it now or after if it ends in a simple triumph with no misfortune or apology for the vanquished.
When the flag falls, the sky begins Bet Killiney Novice Chase of Class 3, which starts at 12.50pm this afternoon in Punchestown, the undefeated Envoi Allen faces a threat to his flawless record.
His retirement as a favorite is evidence of his aura and for what he’s accomplished so far.
The Willie Mullins-trained challenger cleared his notebook when he fell as a 4/6 favorite in the Faugheen Class 1 chase in Limerick over Christmas but was previously an impressive winner of his novice chase at the today’s venue.
As a novice he was a Class 1 winner but has a penchant for wild jumping, which was even more recent last November in Punchestown pointed in that direction.
He’s comfortable on the ground, but the two and a half mile trip is perfect. He generally jumps well on evidence from what we’ve seen, is trained by Mullins, and is ridden by Paul Townend.
Interestingly enough, Assemble was six lengths behind taking care of the business when he performed with Pat Doyle at Old D-to-Point in Oldtown almost three years ago.
Assemble has become one solid operator and showed up for a millisecond seven weeks ago before Envoi Allen was approaching the penultimate obstacle in the Drinmore Chase Class 1 at Fairyhouse. However, the Muhtathir gelding’s reaction was felt immediately when Jack Kennedy asked the gentlest questions and prevailed by eight and a half lengths.
Gordon Elliott expertly treated the Cheveley Park-owned seven year old and the Marsh Chase is the target if everything goes according to plan today. He has already successfully prepared him to win the hurdle pots from Champion Bumper and Ballymore Novices in Cheltenham.
The fact is, Envoi Allen has never run on heavy ground. It is also a fact that three pounds from a rock is a tremendous amount of weight to be given to a potentially elite performer with a huge engine. This is the kind of test that kicks off.
Asterion Forlonge has a tendency to run sharp and will likely win the race. With Envoi Allen being one of the most relaxed racehorses in training, Kennedy just wants to make sure he doesn’t give Townend too much rope.
Everything we’ve seen tells us that Envoi Allen will win because he’s a superstar who jumps like it’s what he was born for and was superbly trained by Colin Bowe when it belonged to Walter Connors. He’s versatile on the ground and on the move, one suspects.
Most of all, we have no idea how good he is because he’s not a show. If he prevails with a bit of a hand today, get the superlatives done.
The real status trait comes next and there’s a real chance the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle will go to Class 2 one of the minnows of the sport.
Paddy Corkery coaches Master McShee, the first Cork winner to flash a deep field on a handicap in Leopardstown last month when he’s not running his Cappoquin dairy farm. Malinas’ son, who started his campaign by landing two and a half lengths ahead of the later easy Class 1 winner Appreciate It, runs in the colors of Corkery’s wife Deirdre, and their son John is also a key member of the minor operation family.
Master McShee could well become the favorite. Dreal Deal may take a little longer, but it is currently trying to extend a winning sequence of five. McNally, a professional carpenter who has a kitchen design and equipment shop in Armagh, has done a great job with a small team including The Jam Man, The Trigger and See Double You. His little son Kian, nicknamed « Tubs », is already a social media sensation.
Both would be popular winners, but they face strong opposition, with Ganapathi (Mullins) and Magic Tricks (Elliott) being particularly dangerous are.
An INM website