An unbeaten superstar who carried all before him. The bookies’ friend who was odds-on for all bar one of his career starts. Connections shirking big tests in order to extend his winning run.
All three statements apply to both Frankel and Envoi Allen. Flat racing’s superstar has his own mirror image in the National Hunt sphere in the Gordon Elliott-trained Envoi Allen, who took his record to eight-from-eight on the 5th January. Here’s why –
Impressive Unbeaten Run
Frankel was a perfect fourteen-from-fourteen after scoring at Ascot in October 2012. Making his debut in August 2010, he won ten Group Ones including the 2011 2,000 Guineas.
His Irish successor won a Point by ten-lengths in February 2018. A four-length winner on his debut under rules in a Fairyhouse bumper in December, he followed that success with Listed and Grade Two bumpers in his native Ireland. He then showed an impressive attitude to win the Champion Bumper in March 2019.
Sent over hurdles the following November, he readily overcame sixteen rivals at Down Royal. Two Grade One successes followed; he won the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse before landing the Lawlor’s Of Naas earlier this month.
He’s now eight-from-eight in both points and under rules. He’s likely to race once more before Cheltenham, most likely at the Dublin Racing Festival. It’s hard to see him losing there before he ventures across to the UK for the spring Festivals.
Both the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree look sewn up already. Having already beaten many of Ireland’s best novice hurdlers, it appears probable that he’ll also add success in the Puncehstown Novice Hurdle to his name.
He will then end this season an impressive eleven-from-eleven. If connections chose to send him over fences the following season, what is there to beat him? He’s already beaten the majority of his future rivals in his novice hurdling campaign and was impressive when winning his sole point. A novice chase, a couple of domestic Grade Ones before success at the spring Festivals could see him rising seventeen successive victories, all within the space of three years.
The Bookies’ Friend
Nobody got rich backing Frankel and few will make their fortune backing Envoi Allen. Both were favourites for every single one of their starts on a racecourse. The former was 7/4 on his debut before thirteen subsequent starts for which he was odds-on.
The latter similarly has such a big reputation that the biggest price he’s ever been on a racecourse under rules is 2/1, when he was favourite for the 2019 Champion Bumper. Since going over hurdles, he’s returned at prices of 1/4, 8/11 and 1/4.
A £1 level stake on each of Frankel’s fourteen starts would make the bettor just £5.67. Even allowing for Envoi Allen’s 3/1 starting price in a Point-to-Point, his eight starts have led to just £7.70 profit.
Gordon Elliott’s unbeaten six-year-old is currently a best priced 13/8 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. He’s almost guaranteed to be considerably shorter provided he makes it to the Cheltenham Festival, with prices of 4/6 far more likely. Win there and he’s unlikely to touch odds-against in two possible further starts over hurdles. Getting him beat is impossible, but making a profit from backing him is similarly a challenge.
Avoiding Big Challenges
Frankel was always kept within his comfort zone. Connections avoided sending him to the Derby despite winning the Guineas by six-lengths previously. His owners shirked the Arc, flat racing’s holy grail. A seven-length victory in the Juddmonte was the perfect springboard for the race in 2012, but he stayed in the UK where he landed the Champion Stakes to sign off his career.
A similar situation is transpiring with Envoi Allen. Joining Gordon Elliott after winning a Point-to-Point in February 2018, he could have made his hurdling debut the following season. Instead, connections kept him in bumpers where he won all four of his starts.
Over hurdles this season, he has won all three of his starts, showing an impressive turn of foot over both two-miles and two-miles-four. After his latest success over the latter trip, connections have confirmed their intention to target the Ballymore.
This involves avoiding the Supreme and the Champion Hurdle, both more competitive and prestigious events. He has more than enough pace to win over those shorter trips. Furthermore, judged on the weakness of the Champion Hurdle division this year, he has more than enough talent to figure in open company.
Judged on everything we’ve seen on the racecourse, he’s more than classy enough. However, both connections and the trainer are unwilling to aim for the Champion Hurdle, instead choosing to beat a bunch of horses than which we all know he’s better.
Both Frankel and Envoi Allen are undoubtedly superstars, and the latter could well end his career as one of the greatest ever jumpers. All we ask for is that connections challenge him. We want to see the best tackling the best, and by avoiding the Derby and targets abroad, Frankel wasn’t tested as thoroughly as he should have been. We just hope that a similar fate doesn’t await Envoi Allen.