All too easy for Envoi Allen after Asterion fluffs his lines in first-fence fall
An anti-climax, a damp squib or a bit of a non-event? Whatever way you want to describe it, the Killiney Novice Chase did not live up to expectation.
There was a school of thought that this Grade 3 represented the sternest examination of Envoi Allen's mettle yet. Giving Asterion Forlonge 11lb was supposed to test Gordon Elliott's superstar like he had never been tested before.
Unfortunately, the pre-race build-up, and there was a lot of it, was rendered null and void when Asterion Forlonge, under late substitute Danny Mullins, crashed out at the first fence.
Any chance of Envoi Allen being taken out of his comfort zone had evaporated before most people had sat down on their couches with a cup of tea in anticipation of the main event.
From there, Envoi Allen just lobbed around with Jack Kennedy and made it look easy, always doing what was required of him to win in borderline boring fashion. Of course, it wasn't boring.
In stretching his unbeaten record under rules to 11, Envoi Allen hardened his reputation as one of the most bombproof horses in training.
Soon after the debrief with Kennedy came the post-race analysis from Elliott who, along with acknowledging the race did not pan out as expected, described himself as more than happy with the effortlessly good shift Envoi Allen had put in.
Elliott said: "It's nearly a bit of an anti-climax Asterion Forlonge went at the first because you're waiting to see what's going to happen, but Jack said he went around there in second gear and he wasn't doing a stroke. He went around there with his ears pricked, but what I liked was, when Jack asked him to quicken, he got underneath the last and landed running, and quickened all the way to the line."
He added: "I think he'd be better with a lead. We all know how idle he is. In fairness, he had to do his own donkey work there. Jack said he was nervous enough looking at the loose ones running in and out of the fences up front, but thankfully that's job done. I don't think he did anything wrong, did he?”
Certainly not. The bookmakers were of a similar opinion with many leaving Envoi Allen at a shade of odds-on for the Marsh Novices' Chase.
Elliott revealed that, while Cheltenham remains the plan for Envoi Allen, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned star would also be left in everything at the Dublin Racing Festival just in case there are problems looming regarding Irish runners at Cheltenham.
He said: "He's obviously in everything at the Dublin Racing Festival for fear of anything happening with Cheltenham, but I'd imagine we will go straight there."
Asked if he'd have preferred a harder race with a view towards March, Elliott said: "This horse is for the future. He's been to Cheltenham twice and he showed what he can do around there. It's next year we are thinking about with him."
Asterion Forlonge appeared to be none the worse for his first-fence fall, while Paul Townend, reported to be sore and unable to take his mounts on Sunday after a fall on Saturday, is expected to be back in the saddle next week.
Providing an update on the champion jockey, Willie Mullins said: "Paul was sore. I chatted to him this morning and said to him I'd rather him sit it out and rest than coming here, especially with the first two being the best races. I'm hoping he will be back next weekend."
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