Unbeaten in seven runs under rules, including a pair of Grade 1 races over hurdles, the star of the show at next week’s Cheltenham Festival is undoubtedly Envoi Allen. Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old has long been touted as the favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on the second day of the Festival, but it turns out that we’re more likely to see him on day one.
The Ballymore is raced over the 2m 5f distance and on likely heavy ground, many have raised doubts about whether he’ll be seen to best effect over such a difficult test. That scepticism has turned out to be correct, with Gordon Elliott coming out with a quote that will certainly turn many people’s antepost bets upside down.
“There is every possibility that I’ll switch him back to the Supreme Novice.”
That is largely due to the deluge of rain that has continued to pound Cheltenham in recent weeks, as Elliott continued: “We got off a plane today at half-one and from then until now, it hasn’t stopped raining. So for me, it is a big worry”.
Elliott also stated that he’ll be “walking the track on Saturday evening” specifically for Envoi Allen, to make the call on where he’s headed. There was an immediate shift in the market on the Betfair Exchange, with Envoi Allen moving into a narrow 5.1 favourite ahead of Shishkin and Asterion Forlonge.
Winning the Grade 1 Royal Bond over the two-mile distance back in December over stable-mate Abacadabras and Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star, he’ll have no problem dropping back in distance. He’d surely relish a stiff test over two miles at Cheltenham with the way the ground is, and it’s no surprise to see potentially making this move.