Gordon Elliott is hoping the “classy” Envoi Allen can maintain his unbeaten record in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The County Meath trainer reports the six-year-old to ready for his big test on Wednesday, after winning the third Grade One of his career to take his 100 per cent tally to seven under rules.
Elliott said: “There’s always more pressure when you go to Cheltenham with the likes of him. We think he’s very good, and he never does any more than what he has to – even working him, if he worked with a 95-rated horse he’d only just beat him.
“I don’t think he’s a hype horse. He’s won three Grade Ones and he’s done it himself.
“He’s a very classy horse, the way he jumps and the way he travels. Nothing fazes him too much.
“I’m a realist and I know every horse is going to get beat at some stage. Hopefully, it won’t be Wednesday for him.”
Willie Mullins is not afraid to take on Envoi Allen with The Big Getaway, who is progressing well and looks to have a bright future after opening his account over hurdles at the second attempt at Naas
“I was delighted with him the last day – he’s coming along nicely,” said the Closutton handler.
“To look at him you’d think it’s all about going chasing with him next year, but I hope he’ll run well in Cheltenham.
“It’s probably the hottest novice race of the week. I would have liked to have got more experience into him, but he’s a good jumper and he’s done lots of schooling.
“I won’t be shying away from taking him (Envoi Allen) on.”
Connections of the Colin Tizzard-trained The Big Breakaway have reservations only about his relative experience, and are in no doubt about his talent.
“We have got some lovely novices this season, and this one is very exciting,” said Joe Tizzard, assistant to his father.
“He has got a lot of ability and raw talent. The lack of experience is always in the back of our minds, but he has not shown any signs of inexperience in his races so far.
“He has had his point-to-point and two hurdle runs. Everything he does at home is straightforward and he is straightforward in his races.
“He settles and jumps well. This horse could end up anywhere in the future – and everyone has seen that for themselves, not just because we have hyped him up.
“He is very relaxed and jumps for fun. Robbie Power is in love with him, and so are we.
“This horse has just looked a bit special – and he could well be.”
Tizzard will also be represented by Chepstow winner Getaway Fred.
He added: “He is the outsider of the lot, but I don’t think he should be that sort of price.
“He nearly won with a penalty and two and a half will bring out an improvement in him.”
Sporting John is another who can boast a perfect career record, and his trainer Philip Hobbs sees no reason why his charge cannot go all the way to the top.
“Ascot was impressive, and the form of his first race at Exeter has worked out very well, so at the moment the sky is the limit with him – but it will be much harder on Wednesday, obviously,” Hobbs told Sky Sports Racing.
“You’d think the form from Ascot would stack up, but when there are only four runners you don’t know for sure.
“We think he’s more likely to be more effective over two and a half miles than two miles at this stage.”
Henry de Bromhead was encouraged when Minella Indo opened his account over fences at Navan and is not too worried about his lack of races over fences as he heads to the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.
“He maybe wasn’t as impressive as everybody wanted him to be – but he got the job done, and we’re happy with him going there,” said De Bromhead.
“Maybe ideally I’d like him to have more experience, but if he’d run at Christmas I’m not convinced I’d have run him again anyway.
“He’s well schooled and he’s a point-to-point winner, so I’m happy enough.”
Mullins believes Allaho’s jumping will stand him in good stead, on what is only his third start over fences.
He made all when romping to a first win over the bigger obstacles at Fairyhouse in January and has course form, having finished third to Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 12 months ago.
“His jumping is a huge asset and I think he stays all day. I’d be telling Paul (Townend) to let him gallop – I don’t think we got the tactics right in the Albert Bartlett last year,” said Mullins.
“This year I think we’ll let him use his stride and jump and gallop.”
Copperhead, one of two runners in the race for Gold Cup-winning trainer Tizzard, will need a career best according to connections if he is to follow up his impressive Grade Two success in last month’s Reynoldstown at Ascot.
Tizzard junior said: “We just feel he is a horse on the upgrade, and he is very good around this trip. He has come out of the Ascot race well.
“If you said at the start of the season he would be shorter than Slate House we would have been shocked – but that is the sort of progression he has made.
“I think he needs to run a career best to be competitive – and he might well do, because he has improved with every run.
“Between me dad and the owners, hopefully we have made the right decision running in this and not the National Hunt Chase.”
Tizzard will also be represented by Slate House – who will be on a retrieval mission, having pulled up in the Cotswold Chase at the track in January.
Tizzard junior said: “We have gone for the RSA, because we just think if the ground did dry out two and a half in the Marsh it might just get him off his feet on good to soft – seeing as he is a Grade One winner over three miles.
“I think he is too big a price if you forget his last run, because he is the joint-highest rated novice in the country.
“He had an off day for whatever reason in the Cotswold, and Robbie (Power) looked after and didn’t bottom him. He has come out of it well.”
Mullins has Appreciate It, the hot favourite, as he seeks a remarkable 10th success in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper. The six-year-old has impressed with two victories at Leopardstown.
“He has done everything right in his last two runs, and looks to be going there with a big chance,” he said.
“He’s a big chasing type who stays well and has jumped well at home.
“He has a huge cruising speed, which you need for the bumper in Cheltenham.”
David Pipe took the Champion Bumper with Moon Racer in 2015 and has two live chances in Israel Champ and Panic Attack, the latter formerly trainer by Mullins.
“Israel Champ has done nothing but improve since joining the team, and his latest effort when giving weight and a beating to his rivals at Ascot is probably the best piece of bumper form on this side of the Irish Sea,” the Nicholashayne trainer told his website.
“Our other runner in the race is Panic Attack, who will be making her debut for the stable. She has done nothing but please me since Bryan Drew purchased her and sent her to Pond House.
“She was very impressive in landing the Listed mares’ bumper at Market Rasen on her only start – and as a four-year-old filly, she will get a 15lb allowance from Israel Champ and company, which is a considerable amount.”