NINE all. That was the score as the curtain fell on day three of the Cheltenham Festival in the titanic battle of the two great National Hunt breeding nations, Ireland and France. The British recorded their third success of the meeting too.

The impetus remains with the French, their five Grade 1 winners stacking up against four for Ireland and a pair for England.

The two feature races on Thursday’s card were the Ryanair Chase and the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, and they were won by Envoi Allen and Sire Du Berlais. On the day that one of the races was run in honour of Jack de Bromhead, how fitting it was that his dad Henry would saddle Envoi Allen to take the crown vacated by the side-lined Allaho. This was a second win in the race for de Bromhead, successful five years ago with Balko Des Flos.

Five years go the sale ring at Cheltenham played host to the sale of the point-to-point winner Envoi Allen (Muhtathir). Trained by Colin Bowe for Walter Connors, he sold to Tom Malone for £400,000. With his victory this week, he has now earned almost twice that amount for the Thompson’s Cheveley Park Stud.

Envoi Allen won all his four starts in bumpers, culminating with victory in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham – and still the best was to come. His latest victory was his seventh over fences, adding to four victories over hurdles. It is his eighth Grade 1 success in all. Envoi Allen was bred by Bruno Vagne, and comes from a renowned family he has developed over decades. This particular female line has enjoyed great success in France, England and Ireland.

Good Reaction

Envoi Allen is the first foal and one of three winners from his dam Reaction (Saint Des Saints) who won twice over jumps. He is followed by Fighter Allen (Vision D’Etat), a bumper winner in France and a winner over hurdles and fences in Ireland who has been graded-placed. The pair have been joined on the winners’ roster by Impulsion Allen (Fly With Me), successful three times over jumps in France.

Reaction is one of six winners from Hesmeralda (Royal Charter) and she won nine times over jumps in France. Just two of her offspring were fillies, the other being Une Epoque (Dom Alco) who won the Grade 3 Prix Sytaj Mares Chase at Auteuil. We are very familiar with a couple of Hesmeralda’s other winners. Auvergnat (Della Francesca) won the Grade 2 Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, while Eldorado Allen (Khalkevi) is a multiple Grade 2 winner over fences and runner-up in the Grade 1 Arkle Chase at Cheltenham.

Go back another generation, to Envoi Allen’s third dam Violeta (Rhapsodien), and up pops another Cheltenham Festival winner, the ill-fated Espoir D’Allen (Voix Du Nord).

Envoi Allen’s sire Muhtathir (Elmaamul) was a Group 1 winner at four and five, and runner-up in the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains-French 2000 Guineas. His five Group 1 winners on the flat are Mille Et Mille, Indonesienne, Doctor Dino (three times), Mauralakana and Satwa Queen. Envoi Allen is his outstanding National Hunt performer.

Sire again

Successful for the third time at the Cheltenham Festival, the 11-year-old Sire Du Berlais, by Poliglote (Sadler’s Wells), sire of a Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner in Solemia, out of Royal Athenia (Garde Royale) was bred by Jean-Marc Lucas and partners. He twice won the Grade 3 Pertemps Network Final, and scored at Grade 1 level in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree.

He is one of a pair of blacktype winners out of the excellent racemare Royal Athenia whose 10 victories over jumps were headed by the Grade 1 Prix Renaud du Vivier. Sold 15 years ago for €300,000 at Arqana, she is also dam of the listed chase winner Castle Du Berlais (Saint Des Saints). One of her daughters, the winning Hermine Du Berlais (Saint Des Saints), is dam of a pair of blacktype winners, Grade 1 heroine Altesse Du Berlais (Martaline) and listed winner and Grade 1 runner-up Colbert Du Berlais (Poliglote).

Royal Athenia in turn is a full-sister to the Grade 1 Punchestown winning bumper horse Royal Rosa (Garde Royale) and a half-sister to the Grade 1 Deloitte Novices’ Hurdle winner Royal Paradise (Cadoudal), as well as being a sibling to three other blacktype winners over jumps in France. Their dam’s record of producing nine winners, six blacktype winners and three Grade 1 winners is outstanding.