Rugby Envoi Allen enters Champion Hurdle picture after Royal Bond success

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Gordon Elliott believes Envoi Allen is “the real thing” and bookmakers agree with him to the extent of making the unbeaten novice star only 8-1 for this season’s Champion Hurdle.

Envoi Allen was also cut to favourite for two novice events at the Cheltenham Festival in March after an impressive defeat of his stable companion Abacadabras in Sunday’s Bar One Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

In normal circumstances the 2-1 about him for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle would look a straightforward option.

Forced to make most of the running on Sunday, it was at the end of the two miles that Envoi Allen looked most in control, prompting inevitable suggestions that the former point-to-point winner will come into his own over further.

Afterwards, though, jockey Davy Russell indicated we may be dealing with an unusually versatile talent and pointed out about the strapping five-year-old: “He has a lot of room for a very big engine.”

In the context of an already comparatively threadbare-looking championship picture – one further reduced by a potential season-ending injury for Buveur D’air on Saturday – Envoi Allen appeals as a rare youngster capable of filling the void.

Russell added: “He’s just very professional. I really like him. The public have got behind him too and he’s very popular. It must be all the ‘ones’ beside his name!”

The last novice to win the Champion Hurdle was Make A Stand in 1997.

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