After watching Envoi Allen’s victory this past Sunday one thing is for certain, this gracious horse would be right there in the Champion Hurdle mix come March. The question however is will they even send him there? The likeliest answer, especially after running over 2m4f most recently is probably not. As a novice it’s likely that trainer Gordon Elliott and the team will look to build a novice profile for this smart hurdler. After the race Elliott put forward a trio of festival entries in the form of “The Supreme, Ballymore and Champion Hurdle,” however he stated the he was “keen to keep him among the novices but will see how the field develops”. I certainly see the logic in what Elliott has to say but surely the allure of the Champion Hurdle is a very tempting proposition?
The horse recently received a rating of 155 at Fairyhouse in December and after this win will only improve further. Lets not be quick to forget that we have seen Champion Hurdles won convincingly with horses rated at 162 before now and I’d be surprised if Envoi Allen isn’t far off, if not rated higher than that come March.
The Cheveley Park runner has the staying ability as displayed in his 2m4f success and the turn of foot that he’s demonstrated over the minimum 2 mile trip. Not to mention the fact he handles Cheltenham. All of which gives him the tools to certainly play a significant part.
Gordon Elliott's charge is priced at around 14/1 and with many betting offers available with the likes of Paddy Power now offering Non-Runner No Bet on all Cheltenham Festival races. As well as offering “Bet £10, Get £30 covering Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers Hurdle, and Cheltenham Gold Cup” all of which are readily available.
So if the novice does go the Champion Hurdle route who is he likely to be up against? An under par Klassical Dream who stormed away up the hill in last years Supreme seems to be an entirely different horse this term.
Perhaps the Owner’s Group favourite in the form of Pentland Hills? Sadly it seems to be a case that he just doesn’t have the pace outside of novice company.
Then there is the new comer, straight out of handicap company, the McManus owned Epatante. If she lines up in the premier race on day one she will get her mares allowance but some shrewd people in racing feel she will hate the stiff run in up the Cheltenham hill, although I’m sure JP would love to see his silks hoisted aloft in this illustrious race for the billionth time.
Finally it wouldn’t be a Champion Hurdle without either a Gigginstown or Rich Ricci contender and this year it looks to be in the form of Sharjah who looks to potentially pose the biggest threat of all. Going well in last years renewal before being brought down he has subsequently proven he can mix it with the best hurdlers in Ireland after winning at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. That being said he is yet to deliver at Cheltenham.
So I make a plea to you Gordon! Throw the dice and show everyone what this impressive lad can do! After all it looks, albeit on paper, that there won’t be an easier Champion Hurdle to win!
With NRNB now available punters have nothing to lose but Gordon we beg of you, take your chance!!!
written by Stephen Rowe