Chantry House takes Marsh Novices
He had been billed as the week’s most dependable hotpot but Envoi Allen fluffed his lines for the first time when crashing out at the fourth fence, leaving the way clear for Chantry House to run out an impressive winner in his absence.
Unbeaten in 11 starts going into the Marsh Novices’ Chase, Envoi Allen was bidding for a third Cheltenham Festival success and a sixth at the highest level.
On what was his first start for Henry de Bromhead after the seven-year-old’s Cheveley Park owners withdrew their horses from Cullentra House in the wake of the Gordon Elliott controversy a fortnight ago, he was sent off at odds of 4-9 to extend his flawless record under Jack Kennedy.
Poised in behind the early pace, with Fusil Raffles leading from Shan Blue, and with Chantry House on his outside, Envoi Allen appeared to be in a nice rhythm.
However, he reached for the fourth fence and crashed out, leaving a distraught Kennedy on the ground and paving the way for one of the upsets of the week. Happily, Envoi Allen and Kennedy walked away unscathed.
Speaking later on, Kennedy suggested Envoi Allen had been a little lit up early on. “He is fine, so that’s the main thing,” he said. “He was very keen down over the first few fences and he was very brave over the first two.
“He went down and popped the third fence then and I thought he might be settling into it, but he went down and let fly at that one and fell. That’s hugely disappointing, but we live to fight another day.
“He was just doing too much with me in behind horses and he just came up out of my hands and landed on the top of the fence. He will learn from it, I suppose. He’s never made a mistake in his life so that was probably too good to be true. Something was going to happen at some point, so he will learn from it.”
With Envoi Allen gone, Chantry House was the one who took full advantage to deliver Nicky Henderson his 70th festival win under Nico de Boinville. Returned at odds of 9-1, he was also a first of the week for leading owner JP McManus.
“I’m delighted, it’s great for JP and the team,” said De Boinville of his second win of the week following’s Shishkin’s Arkle rout on Tuesday. “Never discount Nicky Henderson. It’s been a tough couple of months, but trust in the guv’nor.”
Of Envoi Allen’s exit, he added: “I didn’t even know he had come down. I was wondering when he was going to come and pick me up in the straight, so it’s news to me when and where he went.”
When the field swung down the back straight, Harry Skelton sent Shan Blue forward with a noticeable injection of pace. At that stage, De Boinville was niggling at Chantry House, but the strong gallop eventually played to his strengths, bringing the seven-year-old’s untapped stamina into play.
As they crossed two-out, the winner’s stablemate Fusil Raffles assumed the lead from Shan Blue, but De Boinville was by now only a neck behind him. Chantry House pinged the last and landed in front, before surging up the hill to beat Fusil Raffles to give Henderson a one-two, with Asterion Forlonge in third and Chatham Street Lad fourth.
Third behind Shishkin in last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Chantry House could now be stepped up even further in trip after his three-length victory over 2m4f. He warmed up for this with a win at Wetherby last month, having been well held in third behind Fusil Raffles at Cheltenham in December.
Courtesy of Racing Post