What a swansong! Colreevy stuns Monkfish and Envoi Allen on her final start
Well, well, well. We expected an epic battle that would give us a glimpse of the future, a sneak peek of what next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup might look like, but instead we were served up a damp squib won by a mare that will never run again.
We will come to Monkfish and Envoi Allen in a moment, but first some commendation for Colreevy who ends her career an unbeaten chaser. This was her fifth straight success over fences. A brave victory in the new Mares' Chase at Cheltenham sandwiched in between two glorious Grade 1 wins.
To understand just how far Colreevy has come over fences, we must mention her hurdles mark. She is currently rated 135 in that sphere, a massive 25lb inferior to Envoi Allen, yet here she was bossing who were supposed to be two of the best novice chasers of the modern era.
It is obviously a shade disappointing that we won't see her in a Cheltenham Gold Cup as this performance would have warranted next season's campaign being directed that way, but she is already in foal to Walk In The Park. What a swansong this was.
Mullins said: "On [chase] ratings she was the best in. Obviously Envoi Allen is not right and Monkfish didn't run his true race and she did. She ran her true race and probably ran an even better race than she did at Cheltenham.
"The Flynns are great people, they are real National Hunt breeders. She's in foal to Walk in the Park and hopefully we'll have foals out of her in the next few years. She looks a really special mare and they'll love to have her running around the field. We've had a fantastic day and the ball hopped nicely for us."
Danny Mullins, who was back on board here having guided her to victory in her previous Grade 1 win at Limerick over Christmas, said: "She's been a good mare to me this season. It was a good performance, she was a little bit sticky early on, but once she warmed into it she proved herself to be a top-class mare."
So then, what of Monkfish? Everything appeared to be as effortless as ever until he crashed through three out. It was almost instantly game over after that. That's not the Monkfish we know and love. Betfair responded by easing him to 8-1 from 4-1 for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Envoi Allen? The real Envoi Allen does not get a slap down the shoulder over half a mile from home. The real Envoi Allen is not lethargic. The real Envoi Allen does not get pulled up. It was blatantly obvious this was a pale imitation of the superstar who won his first 11 races in a row. Here's hoping Henry de Bromhead gets to the bottom of the problem as he is too good for something like this to happen. He was pushed all the way out to 20-1 from 7-1 for the Gold Cup.
The seven-year-old was later examined by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board veterinary officer at the request of the stewards and was found to be lame, with Rachael Blackmore reporting that he hung badly left throughout. He was obviously feeling something.
This was Colreevy's day. It might have been her last visit to a racecourse, but she didn't half make the most of it.
Colreevy was phenomenal. She got into a great rhythm from the outset and had Monkfish and Envoi Allen under pressure from some way out, especially the latter who clearly didn't fire his best shot.
Following his uncharacteristic fall in the Marsh at the Cheltenham Festival, Envoi Allen's Gold Cup claims have become murky as this season draws to an end. Pushing the star chaser out to 20-1 (from 7-1) may be a knee-jerk reaction, but it's hard to be confident that he has all the tools to win the 2022 showpiece chase at this stage.
Monkfish's winning streak came to an end, but he did not perform badly given the 7lb sex allowance. He's still a big, raw individual who lacks the desired jumping technique to win the Gold Cup. However, the talent is most definitely there and if he sharpens up over the summer, 8-1 could look like a big price come next March.
Read more from day one at Punchestown:
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