Special Envoi Delivers Third Ryanair for Cheveley Park Stud

CHELTENHAM, UK–It always pays to take note of past Festival form, as exemplified by the winners of Wednesday’s two big races, Envoi Allen (Fr) (Muhtathir {Fr}) and Sire Du Berlais (Fr) (Poliglote {GB}). They had respectively made four and five previous appearances at Cheltenham in March, with Envoi Allen having won the G1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper and G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle prior to his emotional return to the winner’s circle after the G1 Ryanair Chase, completing the full set of top-level Festival wins in three different spheres. The 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais had in turn won two Pertemps Finals on this day in 2019 and 2020, and was previously runner-up when Flooring Porter (Ire) (Yeats {Ire}) won the G1 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle for the first time in 2021. 

Still only eight, the front-running Flooring Porter went out, as usual, with all guns blazing in an attempt to get his hat-trick up in the race, only folding when turning for home as he was reeled in by the chasing pack. Dashel Drasher (GB) (Passing Glance {GB}) took up the running and momentarily looked as though he would deliver a dream first Festival victory for Jeremy Scott. The trainer, whose wife Camilla bred Dashel Drasher, was magnanimous in his post-race comments after his stable star crossed the line still holding onto second place, though that was later taken from him in the stewards’ room and handed to Teahupoo (Fr) (Masked Marvel {GB}), giving Gordon Elliott a one-two in the Stayers’ Hurdle and his first Grade 1 of the week.

Arguably, though, the day again belonged to Henry de Bromhead, who recorded his 20th Festival victory and his third of the week with Envoi Allen, a former resident of Elliott’s stable, and who had disappointed when well beaten into seventh in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day. His owner, Cheveley Park Stud, has only become properly involved with jump racing in the last few years and from the select team racing for Patricia Thompson and her son Richard, there has been incredible success in that time, including being leading owner at the Cheltenham Festival for each of the previous two years. The Ryanair Chase, in particular, has been a lucky race for them, with the currently sidelined Allaho (Fr) (No Risk At All {Fr}) having won the last two runnings. 

De Bromhead said, “It’s great for the Thompsons as they are great supporters of ours and the industry. It’s just brilliant.

“I kept saying to Richard that [Envoi Allen] was as good as he was before he went to Kempton. I was so happy with him before the King George, we really fancied him, but like a few of ours who went to England in the first half of the season, he just never showed up.”

De Bromhead, who had to settle for second and third in Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle named in memory of his son Jack, added, “The amount of people, our friends and family who have travelled over, and Michael O’Leary and Ryanair naming the race in honour of Jack, makes this week very special.”

On Friday, the de Bromhead-trained A Plus Tard (Fr) (Kapgarde {Fr}) will attempt to defend his Gold Cup crown for a team which appears to have hit peak form just at the right time.

The day’s racing was, rather strangely, labelled St Patrick’s Thursday, despite the real St Patrick’s Day being 24 hours later. But it was largely a good day for raiders from across the sea, with five Irish trainers being represented by a winner. For John McConnell in particular it was a memorable occasion as Seddon (Ire) (Stowaway {GB}) romped to glory in the Magners Plate Handicap Chase to give the trainer and his jockey Ben Harvey a first Festival winner. Another young rider, Liam McKenna, also shed his Cheltenham maiden tag aboard Good Time Jonny (Ire) (Shirocco {Ger}) in the Pertemps Final for Tony Martin. The 8-year-old’s owners, Aidan Shiels, Donal Gavigan and Niall Reilly, had made the long trip from New York to Prestbury Park and will likely float home across the Atlantic. The trio had also been involved in a decent horse on the Flat in the 2016 Melbourne Cup runner-up Heartbreak City (Fr) (Lando {Ger}).

Thursday’s results did not all go Ireland’s way, however. In the opening G1 Turners Novices’ Chase, the flamboyant 7-year-old Stage Star (Ire) (Fame And Glory {GB}) brought back memories of his talented tearaway of a mother, Sparky May (GB) (Midnight Legend {GB}), a Grade 2-winning hurdler who found only Quevega (Fr) too good when challenging for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2011. Hers was something of a fairytale, her dam Glassy Appeal (Glassy Dip) having been bought by owner/breeder Bill Muddyman of Huxley Holdings with the idea of breeding a few show jumpers. Well her descendants can jump, that’s for sure, and Stage Star, the best of Sparky May’s three winning offspring to date, looked very well named as he made all, meeting each fence beautifully under Harry Cobden to give Britain’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls a first strike at the meeting.

Sparky May, now 18, is a boarder at David and Tamso Cox’s Baroda Stud in Ireland. Though Bill Muddyman, a former chairman of Fulham Football Club, died in 2020, his son Andy has continued his breeding interests.
“She’s doing really well and delivered a Walk In The Park colt on 19 February,” reported David Cox, who added that the mare also has a 2-year-old filly by Harzand (Ire) on the way through.

It has been a good week for the boarders of Baroda Stud, which is also home to Game Of Legs (Fr) (Hernando {Fr}), whose son Gaelic Warrior (Ger) was runner-up in Wednesday’s G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. The mare will be returning to his sire Maxios (GB) this season, while Sparky May will again visit Walk In The Park.

The late Muddyman was not the only football club chairman connected to a winner on Thursday. The 83-year-old Sir Chips Keswick, whose colours were carried to victory by You Wear It Well (GB) (Midnight Legend {GB}) in the G2 Jack de Bromhead Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, was chairman of Arsenal FC until 2020. His nephew Ben Keswick is the owner of Rockliffe Stud, owner-breeder of Group 1 winner Snow Lantern (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and last season’s G2 Flying Childers winner Trillium (GB) (No Nay Never).

The Dream Begins Again

With darkness attempting to claim the parade ring ahead of one last day of Festival action, there was a final bit of business to be conducted under the spotlights. The Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale, which has been in existence for seven years, has the catchline ‘See you in the winner’s enclosure’, which is both literal and aspirational.

The auction staged therein comes with the implication that its expensive graduates will return to that hallowed ground one day to collect a Festival trophy. Love Envoi (Ire) (Westerner {GB}) did just that by landing last year’s G2 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle after being sold for £38,000 in 2021, and she only narrowly failed in her attempt when second to Honeysuckle (GB) in Tuesday’s G1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle. At the pricier end of the market was Gerri Colombe (Fr) (Saddler Maker {Ire}), bought for £240,000 and beaten just a short-head on Wednesday in the G1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. Bravemansgame (Fr) (Brave Mansonnien {Fr}), a £370,000 purchase in 2019, could yet give the sale the ultimate cachet if he obliges in Friday’s G1 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Plenty don’t make the grade of course, but that hasn’t stopped owners backing this boutique event to the tune of £16.5 million in the first six years, raised through the sale of 114 horses. Another 19 horses (76%) changed hands on Thursday evening, for a total of £3,405,000 and average of £179,211.

Sharing the top spot on the leaderboard were two 4-year-old geldings, Romeo Coolio (GB) (Kayf Tara {GB}) and Jason d’Oudairies (Fr) (No Risk At All {Fr}), both consigned by Donnchadh Doyle’s Monbeg Stables and bought for £420,000 apiece by Gordon Elliott. Romeo Coolio will race for the Keep The Dream Alive syndicate.

“These are the sort of horses we want, we thought they were the two best horses in the sale,” said the trainer. Of Jason d’Oudairies he added, “We don’t have an owner yet, but we will have by the time the night is out.”
Romeo Coolio will race for the Keep The Dream Alive syndicate.

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