Ruby Walsh: Elliott holds the Allen key to a Ballymore banker

I must say I got the most enjoyment out of watching Barry Geraghty winning on Epatante yesterday, seeing his reaction and seeing just how much he enjoyed winning the Champion Hurdle.
Ruby Walsh: Elliott holds the Allen key to a Ballymore banker
Patrick Mullins is unseated from Carefully Selected in the four-miler yesterday. Picture: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Patrick Mullins is unseated from Carefully Selected in the four-miler yesterday. Picture: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

I must say I got the most enjoyment out of watching Barry Geraghty winning on Epatante yesterday, seeing his reaction and seeing just how much he enjoyed winning the Champion Hurdle.

I often think did I overdo it on Annie Power, with sheer relief, enjoyment and everything that went with it, but you could see that pouring out of Barry yesterday too.

He’s 40 years of age and to see all that emotion, to me it was brilliant. I was delighted for him.

He’s had an up and down time of it in the last couple of years, and I was just delighted to see him deliver on the biggest stage on a 2-1 favourite. I could nearly see it in him that he was thinking ‘There you are now— doubt me.’

The Mares’ Hurdle was a great race to watch, and Rachael got the run of the race.

Tactics are everything in a race, and she got a great run through along the rail. Robert Power left the door open and she got through, but that’s just the way races unfold.

Looking ahead to today’s racing, it’s a shame the much-anticipated clash of Altior, Defi De Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi in the Champion Chase has failed to materialise, with Altior being a late defector, but it remains an intriguing race nonetheless.

Nicky Henderson was open with the fact Altior suffered a setback earlier in the week and, while he tried to give the horse every chance to make the line-up, yesterday morning he had to concede defeat.

It might have been the race of the week in many people’s eyes, including mine, but is still one we can all enjoy.

Willie Mullins runs Chacun Pour Soi, who has had just four runs over fences in Ireland and, even though one of those was a beating of Defi Du Seuil at last season’s Punchestown festival, he is a little short on experience.

Defi has had a cracking season, winning all three starts and learning the ropes of a top-class two-miler along the way.

I find it difficult to separate the two but am, of course, hoping Chacun Pour Soi can give Willie a first win in the race — one of the few major races missing from his CV.

Tiger Roll will do what Tiger Roll does in the Cross Country Chase: win! And I hope Willie will add to his remarkable record in the Cheltenham bumper.

Appreciate It is the chosen one in the bumper, and Patrick rides him. Ferny Hollow will have to deal with the occasion and is not certain to do that and, while I fancy Appreciate It, Willie’s other runner, Five Bar Brian, should not be ignored.

Today kicks off with what many, including me, will view as the Irish banker: Envoi Allen in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle.

I love this horse and if someone was to give me one horse to take home from here on Friday night, it would be him.

I know Sporting John, The Big Breakaway and The Big Getaway are all smashing horses with huge futures but what Envoi Allen has achieved so far dwarfs what any of the opposition has achieved.

He beat Abacadabras and Thyme Hill here last year in the Champion Bumper and has since added three hurdle victories from three attempts, including two at the top level. Abacadabras was just touched off in the Supreme and Darver Star, who was also behind him at Fairyhouse, finished third in the Champion Hurdle.

It all points to Envoi Allen.

His jumping has been slick since day one, his temperament is uncomplicated, and Davy Russell can ride this lad in whichever fashion he so wishes because he is that straight-forward.

For me, he is nap material and I would be very confident going out to ride him.

As far as I’m concerned, the RSA Chase revolves around three horses: Allaho, Champ and Minella Indo.

Some good judges have been making a strong case for the Colin Tizzard-trained Copperhead.

I know he is improving but he is not for me, especially since Robert Power has chosen to ride Slate House over him.

Champ, Minella Indo and Allaho are the big guns and when all is said and done, Champ would be my pick.

I think the fall he got here on New Year’s Day will be the making of him as he needed a wakeup call in the jumping department.

While Allaho was impressive at Fairyhouse, I don’t think his form is as strong as Champ’s, and Minella Indo failed to impress me winning his beginners’ chase at Navan after a promising first effort.

The Coral Cup was my least favourite race to ride in and, being honest, I have barely looked through it now.

However, Franco De Port is one that should prove to be better than a handicapper so might be worth considering as an each-way bet, if punters are so inclined.

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