The eight-year-old appeared to have the world at his feet after winning his first 11 starts under Rules for Gordon Elliott, but results have been mixed since joining trainer Henry De Bromhead last year. Envoi Allen failed to complete on his first two starts for the Knockeen handler - falling at Cheltenham and pulling up at Punchestown - and while he did manage to win a Grade One over two miles last season, it looked as though his best days may be behind him. However, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned gelding proved he is no back number on only his second start over three miles in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase and he is now set for a trip to Kempton on Boxing Day.
"He seems good. He was really good the other day and we were delighted with him," De Bromhead said at Fairyhouse on Tuesday.
"I had obviously gone the wrong way with the trip last year. He seemed to love it, he stayed really well and we were delighted with him. "I think the plan is to go for the King George, if everyone is happy to do that. That was our plan, if the north (Down Royal) went well we said we'd give it a go." Envoi Allen was one of two notable winners for De Bromhead at Down Royal, with Magical Zoe finishing with a rattle to maintain her unbeaten record in the previous afternoon's Irish Stallion Farms EBF Feathard Lady Mares Novice Hurdle. The long-term target for the four-year-old is the mares' novices' hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March - a race De Bromhead revealed is set to be named in honour of his late son Jack, who died in a pony racing accident in September. "Magical Zoe is a nice mare. We always thought she was nice but I suppose she did surprise us on Friday in the sense that she's a bit of an unknown," said the trainer. "I'm not sure where she'll go next. I think I want to start at Cheltenham and work backwards with her. She's only four and only a baby, so we'll see. "Michael O'Leary (of sponsors Ryanair) has very kindly said they are going to name the mares' novices' hurdle the Jack de Bromhead Mares Novices' Hurdle, which is incredible. "I'm hoping to do a Willie (Mullins) on it and try and fill the field if at all possible! We'll certainly be aiming her towards there I would imagine."
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