Unbeaten Envoi Allen stands his ground for the opening Grade 1 of 2020
December 30, 2019 | Niamh Byrne
Gordon Elliott will be aiming to continue his strong Christmas form into the new year with Envoi Allen headlining the entries at the latest forfeit stage for the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle on Sunday.
Envoi Allen, who won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham last season, remains unbeaten in his career and is the highest rated novice hurdler in Ireland at the moment. The five-year-old heads a list of eight entries for the first Grade 1 race of 2020.
Elliott, who won the race with the extremely talented Battleoverdoyen last year, is looking forward to giving Envoi Allen a third start over hurdles.
The trainer, who has also got Conflated among the entries, said: “This race has been his target since the middle of December and we are very pleased with him. Everything has gone smoothly over the last few weeks and it’s nice to see that his form has been working out at various points over Christmas.”
Elliott continued: “It’s a new trip for him but he has always looked like a horse that would be comfortable going over that distance. It has been a great Christmas and I’m looking forward to starting off the year by running Envoi Allen in a race like this and fingers crossed it will be a nice start to the year.”
Davy Russell partnered Envoi Allen to victory in both his hurdling starts to date and is looking forward to renewing that association on Sunday.
“Envoi Allen is a big strong horse with a lot of ability. Gordon has done a fantastic job with the horse and everyone seems happy with him at home,” Russell commented.
“His form is rock solid and we are really happy with him. It’s a pleasure to be around him,” added the jockey.
“Naas is a very good racecourse and a tough racecourse so you need a very good horse to win around there. I have no doubt that Sunday will be a true test.”
Willie Mullins won the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle with Next Destination in 2018 and looks likely to send course and distance winner Elixir D’ainay back to Naas on Sunday and he has also left in another JP McManus-owned runner, Janidil, who would be looking for a fourth consecutive win.
Longhouse Poet and French Dynamite are two notable inclusions for Martin Brassil and Mouse Morris respectively. Longhouse Poet was second to Elixir D’ainay at Naas before winning his maiden at Navan, while French Dynamite made a winning racecourse debut at Thurles last month.
The potential field for Sunday’s contest is made up by the Joseph O’Brien-trained duo of Midnight Run and Anything Will Do.
A seven race card is due to get underway at 12.50pm on Sunday and further details are available at www.naasracecourse.com.