I thought it would take something pretty special to rival the performance of Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase but we didn’t have to wait long for another blockbuster display from a horse trained in Ireland.
The Ryanair Chase had looked on paper to not only be one of the most competitive Grade 1’s of the week, but one of the most competitive in living memory and I think it was a stronger heat than the Gold Cup this time round.
It was always going to take a big performance to win it but Allaho didn’t post a big performance, he posted a monster performance and one that I didn’t think he was capable of.
I can’t have been the only one thinking that Allaho wouldn’t be able to maintain the relentless gallop that he set under Rachael Blackmore, who was on her way to a fourth Grade 1 victory of the week, but the pair broke the hearts of every one of their rivals and it was clear off the home turn that this horse had seen them all off.
Willie Mullins admitted afterwards that he was ‘gobsmacked’ by the performance but Allaho looks so perfectly suited by the demands of the mid-range trip of the Ryanair that I would be surprised if the trainer was tempted into trying to stretch him out over 3m+ in order to have a go at the Gold Cup.
Allaho is young enough to dominate the Ryanair for the foreseeable.
More Mullins Joy
Thirty-five minutes after the Ryanair Chase, another member of the Mullins family was celebrating, and with good reason.
Danny Mullins had come within a whisker of riding a Cheltenham Festival winner on more than one occasion, most memorably aboard Concertista in the 2019 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, but he had never tasted success at the biggest meeting in the sport.
Good fortune came Mullins’ way when he picked up the spare ride on Flooring Porter in the Stayers’ Hurdle after regular pilot Jonathan Moore stood himself down on the morning of the race, but getting the opportunity is one thing - making the most of it is something else entirely.
Mullins gave the 12/1 chance a peach of a ride from the front where he got the fractions spot on before unleashing his mount after the last. His reaction afterwards spoke for itself.
One rider not quite so fortunate as Mullins was Jack Kennedy, whose golden chance of riding a second winner of the week aboard Envoi Allen didn’t work as he or his supporters had hoped.
The banker of the week for many, Envoi Allen was sent off 4/9 to win the Marsh Novices’ Chase but those that took the prohibitive odds believing they were simply buying money were in for a nasty surprise because the unbeaten 7-year-old came down at the fourth fence.
Whilst I don’t for one second have any sympathy for those that steamed into the favourite, I do feel for his rider who looked crestfallen as he trudged back up the track on his own.