16/03/2023. International Horse Racing World, Cheltenham (UK): Latest Festival News. Wow Envoi Allen!!!


By Tom Kerr


The Stayers’ Hurdle was expected to be one of the most open Grade 1s of the week, but few could have anticipated just how wide open it would prove to be. Three years on from Lisnagar Oscar springing a 50-1 shock in a race with a habit of throwing up big-priced winners, this time it was Sire Du Berlais who pounced at 33-1, having been nibbled at from huge overnight odds.


Sire Du Berlais was second in the race two years ago and won the Pertemps in that strange eve-of-Covid Cheltenham of 2020, but few thought he’d seriously challenge a Stayers’ that seemed stacked with better-credentialed candidates. Few but not none, that is – the Racing Post’s own Ben Hutton tipped the winner as his Spotlight verdict (you can find tomorrow’s Spotlight selections on the racecards). 


Earlier another former Cheltenham winner made a rather unexpected comeback as Envoi Allen took advantage of Shishkin misfiring for the second festival running to land the Ryanair. That was a third winner of the meeting for the in-form Henry de Bromhead, who will saddle last year’s champion A Plus Tard in tomorrow’s big one. 


Britain’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls was also on the scoreboard, notching his first festival winner since 2020 with Stage Star in the Turners. You can imagine what that meant to the ferociously competitive Nicholls, who will fly the flag for Britain in the Gold Cup with Bravemansgame. What a finale that should be. 


‘He could have got in very lightly’ – Paul Kealy bids to follow up 20-1 winner on Gold Cup day at Cheltenham


The six-year-old won the second and third of his hurdles starts over 2m with any amount in hand and he travelled like a high-class performer when second in a Ballymore trial here in January, but clearly didn’t quite get home. A strongly-run 2m1f is going to be right up his alley and he’s the main fancy now.


You can find out who Paul likes on Friday on the Racing Post app by hitting the button below


‘I’ve no excuses but it was unlike him’ – Nicky Henderson puzzled by Shishkin’s Ryanair Chase defeat


Jockey Nico de Boinville said the race “never really went right” for Shishkin after the even-money favourite was beaten by Envoi Allen in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, while trainer Nicky Henderson said “he never looked comfortable” during Thursday’s 2m4½f Grade 1.


In the absence of two-time winner Allaho, Shishkin surged to the head of the Ryanair market after bouncing back with a 16-length success in the Ascot Chase last month and had been strongly fancied to win at the festival for a third time.


However, he struggled to get into a rhythm at Cheltenham and made a bad blunder at the third-last fence before rallying to finish second despite struggling for racing room.

More Cheltenham Festival content