Henry de Bromhead is looking forward to welcoming Envoi Allen to his yard following Cheveley Park Stud’s decision to take the unbeaten gelding and several of his stable companions out of training with Gordon Elliott.
Envoi Allen is arguably the most exciting National Hunt horse in training on either side of the Irish Sea, having won each of his 11 starts under rules, including back-to-back wins at the Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Having not put a foot wrong in three starts over fences this season, the seven-year-old will be widely considered one of the bankers of the week when he returns to the Cotswolds in a fortnight’s time for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
However, his preparations will be completed by De Bromhead following Cheveley Park’s announcement they were removing all eight horses they had in training with Elliott following the image of the trainer which emerged on social media over the weekend.
As well as Envoi Allen, De Bromhead will receive Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender Ballyadam and Triumph Hurdle hope Quilixios, along with Malone Road and point-to-point winner Guily Billy.
Speaking at Gowran Park on Tuesday afternoon, De Bromhead said he was hopeful the change of yard will not be detrimental to the horses’ chances at Cheltenham – and revealed Elliott has already offered to give any advice that is required.
He said: “They are obviously very exciting horses to be getting and we appreciate Cheveley Park sending them to us.
“We’ll let them settle in and see how they are. They will have done most of their serious work up to now and I’d say it’s a case of ticking over with them now, being so close to Cheltenham.
“I haven’t spoken to Gordon as yet about the horses, but he said he’d tell me whatever I need to know. I’ll ring him soon.”
The late additions strengthen what was already a formidable De Bromhead squad bound for Cheltenham.
The Waterford trainer’s other big hopes include Champion Hurdle favourite Honeysuckle and Cheveley Park-owned Gold Cup contender A Plus Tard.
He said: “Touch wood, all our main hopes for Cheltenham seem in good form. I worked a few this morning and all went well.”
The three other Cheveley Park-owned horses previously trained by Elliott will be moved to Willie Mullins.
The champion trainer already handles several horses for the owners, including last year’s Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow and Ryanair Chase hope Allaho, and has picked up Sir Gerhard and a pair of expensive point-to-point recruits in Classic Getaway and Grangeclare West.
The unbeaten Sir Gerhard is second in the betting for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham behind his new stablemate Kilcruit.
Mullins said: “Sir Gerhard is a nice type and we have also got a couple of unraced individuals.
“It’s not great circumstances, but that is it.”
Richard Thompson, a director of the stud, confirmed the news to Sky Sports Racing on Tuesday afternoon.
He said: "We've taken the decision in the last few hours to move the horses from Gordon's yard. We have eight there and they'll go between Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins. The logistics are happening right now.
"Of the big names Envoi Allen and Quilixios are going to Henry. Sir Gerhard goes to Willie. Hopefully with trainers like them and the Cheveley Park team headed by Chris (Richardson) we have the real professionals on the job who are able to resolve this very quickly and smoothly.
"That's what we're hoping for and I have no reason to doubt it. It's very unfortunate timing, obviously."
Envoi Allen - Henry de Bromhead
The shooting star of jumps racing, unbeaten in 11 races over hurdles and fences and a brilliant winner of the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last season. A very warm favourite for the Marsh Novices' Chase this time around and widely regarded as being the banker bet of the week.
Sir Gerhard - Willie Mullins
Winner of his sole point-to-point and brilliant in two National Hunt Flat races to date. A leading player for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, and one of the most exciting young talents in Ireland. Ironically his biggest threat at Cheltenham appears to be new stablemate Kilcruit.
Quilixios - Henry de Bromhead
Three from three in juvenile hurdles and took the step up to Grade One company in his stride at the Dublin Racing Festival. An obvious contender for JCB Triumph Hurdle glory.
Ballyadam - Henry de Bromhead
Grade One winner at Fairyhouse in November and right back on track when chasing home Appreciate It at Leopardstown last month. Many judges feel he can get closer to the Sky Bet Supreme favourite at Cheltenham with a slicker round of hurdling.
Malone Road - Henry de Bromhead
Another expensive purchase from the point-to-points and impressed with three wins under Rules before meeting with a surprise defeat at Listowel in September. Off the track since but remains a horse of rich potential.
Classic Getaway - Willie Mullins
Yet to race under Rules but already enjoys a high-profile having cost £570,000 at the Goffs UK December P2P Sale at Yorton Farm. All the major players wanted the five-year-old who was a facile winner of his sole point at Borris House. Cheveley Park got him.
Grangeclare West - Willie Mullins
Top lot at the Tattersalls Cheltenham December Sale where he fetched £430,000, he'd made a striking winning debut at Lingstown point-to-point. Yet to see a racecourse but clearly another very exciting prospect.
Guily Billy - Henry de Bromhead
A £310,000 buy from the same sale, he pulled-up in his first point but won his second at Tinahely. Again others wanted him but connections dug deep to add him to the Cheveley Park roster.
Thompson feels Cheveley Park ultimately had little option but to move the horses to other yards to ensure their reputation remained intact.
He said: “We had to consider what was happening (on Monday) with the building story and the backdrop of Cheveley’s reputation – in terms of maybe the most important British-owned racing and breeding operation in the UK.
“This reputation has been built up with various breeders and many people support us. We had to look at the situation in context of where Cheveley sit in the industry and our responsibility to the industry in Britain. It’s obviously very disappointing and extremely upsetting for the industry.
“People love horses and we, as a family, purchased Cheveley Park in 1975, so we’ve been racing and breeding for coming up to 46 years.
“I don’t know what the implications are longer term – I’m not close enough to the centre of the politics of racing and how it works between Britain and Ireland.
“All I know is, with my Cheveley Park Stud hat on, we had to take a decision as a board of directors to disassociate ourselves with Gordon at this time and do the right thing by the stud and by the industry.”
When asked if there was a possibility of Cheveley Park having horses with Elliott again in the long-term, Thompson added: “For the time being we’re moving the horses and that’s it.
“Obviously for Gordon, it’s a terrible time for him, but he’s made a terrible error of judgement, which he admits.
“I explained to him that we had to do the right thing by Cheveley Park and the right thing by our standing in the industry and what people expect of us.
“I’m not going to make a comment about long-term, but certainly in the short to medium term these horses will stay with Henry and Willie.”
While plans remain uncertain in such a fast-moving situation, Thompson expects Jack Kennedy to keep the ride on Envoi Allen at Cheltenham.
He said: “Envoi Allen has had Davy Russell and recently Jack Kennedy, and I personally would like to stick to continuity on retaining Davy and/or Jack, depending on injuries etc. With Envoi in particular, we want to stick to the previous relationships.”