Keith Donoghue’s Weekly Blog: Envoi Allen Could Win The Champion Hurdle!

Cheltenham Festival & Grade 1 winning jockey Keith Donoghue is back once again to discuss why he thinks Envoi Allen could win the Champion Hurdle, Samcro, Apple's Jade and much more!

Keith Donoghue’s Weekly Blog: Envoi Allen Could Win The Champion Hurdle!

It was another good week for the yard, especially at Fairyhouse where Envoi Allen proved again that he's as good as I have been saying.

He truly is a freak!


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Envoi The Machine

Envoi Allen really is something special, it's as simple as that.

I've got to know him very well over the last few months riding him at home and as I've said, he's the best horse I've ever ridden, and I'd say he's the best the yard has ever had - at this point anyway. I've ridden him in two schooling races as well and the feeling he gives you is like nothing else I've ever experienced.

I've ridden the likes of Don Cossack, Apple's Jade and plenty more good ones at home, but at this point in his career Envoi Allen is head and shoulders above anything else. He has a long way to go to match them, but if he stays sound the sky is the limit. I said this in my first bookmakers.co.uk article on my 10 to follow for the season and he's only got better since!

There has been plenty of cold mornings where I would arrive to work in bad form, but the second you sit on him that all disappears, he's just a pleasure to ride.

He does everything so easy and for such a big horse he jumps hurdles brilliantly too - long or short he just does it all so effortlessly. There wasn't one second in that race on Sunday where I didn't think he'd win as well as he did.

Abacadabras ran a blinder and travelled like the very good horse he is, but Envoi was only dossing in front late on. It was only in his maiden hurdle win at Down Royal where he properly asserted in a race, most of the time he loves letting a horse get near him, to only power away again like he did in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

To put a horse as good as Abacadabras away like that shows you how truly talented he is and to be honest, we don't even know how good he actually could be. The scary thing is that we'll only see the very best of him when he is jumping a fence over 3 miles.



This win backs up my theory that he could run in any race, over any trip, and win. Envoi Allen is that good that he could probably win the Supreme Novices Hurdle, and then win the Champion Hurdle too on the same day!

I read plenty of discussion about whether or not Envoi Allen should go for the Champion Hurdle as a novice, and I think he'd win the race. He will obviously need more experience, and there's plenty of water to go under the bridge just yet, but he's definitely good enough.

I've no idea where he could run in March, that's a decision for Cheveley Park Stud and Gordon, but I wouldn't be scared of taking on anything in a Champion Hurdle, that's for sure!

As mentioned, Abacadbras ran a blinder and only enhanced his reputation in my eyes. He's very quick, jumped great and depending on where Envoi goes, he'll be very hard to beat in novice hurdles this season.

When you consider the likes of Andy Dufresne, Fury Road and Abacadabras, it's a serious team of novice hurdlers at Gordon's disposal.

Unlucky Samcro

I was delighted watching Samcro, right up until the fall obviously, as he was showing plenty of spark.

He jumped very well until then, and it's an awful pity he came down as the race was only beginning to develop. I saw a few people criticising his jumping, but I thought that Samcro had fenced very well.

Fakir D'oudairies jumps a like a two-miler, in that he jumps through the air and our lad jumps them like a three-miler, in that he jumps the fence - they just have completely different styles.

Fences have to be jumped, that's the name of the game, so fair play to Joseph's horse who was some sight over those fences - but I'm just absolutely convinced that Samcro was going to win that race.



He was a bit laboured early, but that's the kind of horse he is, and once they got to the third last he was firmly behind the bridle, he was tanking! Samcro was only coming alive when he came down, but that's racing unfortunately.

That performance would fill you full of confidence going forward, as he was running a big race giving the winner plenty of weight and Samcro will go from strength to strength as he was absolutely none the worse for the fall.

The winner, Fakir D'oudairies, will be some sight back down to 2 miles jumping like that as well, he's a very good horse.


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Apple's Jade

Apple's Jade unfortunately just isn't showing up on the racecourse this season like she had previously.

Her spark just isn't there at the races and it's an awful pity as she's so talented on her day and I love working with her at home. She's been a brilliant servant, owes nothing to anybody and we'll just have to wait and see what happens with her.

I'd love nothing more than for her to bounce back.

Conflated and Lord Schnitzel

Conflated won very well for Jack at Fairyhouse on Saturday and I was delighted to see him do that.

It looked a good race on paper and as I said a few weeks back that I thought he'd improve for the day when I rode him at Cork behind two decent rivals.

There's such depth to the novices in the yard this season that it's a bit hard to know where to place him and I think he might just be a little bit off being a grade one contender. He might end up being one for something like a Martin Pipe Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Watch this space.



On Saturday I rode Lord Schnitzel who ran a massive race to finish second to Carefully Selected, who recovered very well to win after a bad mistake.

There is definitely a nice race in this horse, who has been trained brilliantly by Matthew Smith who is a very good handler, and he's just been a bit unlucky now to bump into the likes of Carefully Selected and Faugheen!

You'd worry a bit about his mark now as he's got so close to those two talented horses, but he will definitely pay his way over fences for connections.


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