Envoi Allen bounced back to form at the scene of his previous triumphs when he led home a one-two for Irish point-to-point graduates in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase.
The Ballinaboola four-year-old maiden winner for Colin Bowe had previously enjoyed festival success when winning a pair of Grade 1’s in the Champion Bumper and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and he was sent off as a 13/2 shot for his fifth visit to the festival.
Travelling strongly throughout under Rachael Blackmore, he struck the front at the penultimate fence to return two and three quarter lengths clear of the pre-race favourite Shishkin.
Winning trainer Henry de Bromhead said: “It is brilliant for the Thompson’s and I’m delighted for them as they are great supporters of ours and the industry. It is just brilliant.
“I kept saying it to Richard [Thompson] that he was good as he was before going to Kempton [for the King George]. I was really happy with him but he just never showed up. I had three, A Plus Tard, himself and Arctic Bresil that came over here [earlier in the season] and they were all disappointing. But he was in such good form at home [ahead of today] and everyone was delighted with him. I was hoping he would put his best foot forward and he duly did.
“We’ve tried to leave no stone unturned but whatever we are doing now seems to be working which is great. The amount of people that have travelled over, friends and family, that have come over for Jack [de Bromhead’s] race, is great and what Michael O’Leary and Ryanair have done for us is incredible. Everyone has looked after us so well. I’d say most of the people up there are my friends and family.
“I was really happy as he was tanking through the race. He was jumping so well. Rachael was worried at the start that he might have been doing too much. He is a class horse and it is great to see him back.
“I’m not sure what we do (going forward). He stayed three miles and the Gold Cup is the race. I’d say if A Plus Tard wasn’t in it he would have possibly run in it. We will see what we do next and just enjoy today.”
Richard Thompson, of Cheveley Park Stud: “I didn’t see that coming. Henry said he was in good form but he said he was in good form before the King George. One wasn’t too hopeful. I walked away disappointed from the King George as we went there with what we thought was a good chance. He never got into the race. He was very tired when he got back from the King George but today is incredible and he won that well.
“I still couldn’t quite believe it until after the last when he jumped away from the field and he really won it well. Henry said he was in good form coming into it but you had to be cautious as over the last couple of years here he has been erratic. We were hopeful of a decent run but not as good as this.
“He was the horse that was the second coming when he won the bumper here and the Ballymore but to come back and win the Ryanair is fantastic.”