Nico de Boinville insisted “never discount Nicky Henderson” after helping to deliver the trainer’s 70th career victory at The Festival™ supporting WellChild as Chantry House won the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Much of the build-up to the Grade One race had been devoted to the 4-9 favourite, Envoi Allen, but after he and jockey Jack Kennedy parted company at the fourth fence it was left to Dan Skelton’s Shan Blue to press on.
However, it was 9-1 chance Chantry House with de Boinville on board who quickened in the closing stages, jumping the last ahead of stablemate Fusil Raffles before securing a three length victory.
It was a 67th Festival success for owner J P McManus and his first of 2021.
Speaking at the post-race press conference, Nicky Henderson said: “He was very good, although last year in the Supreme we knew he really wanted another another half a mile, today when he got the extra half it looked as though he wanted another half.
“You’d have to think he might be going over three miles sooner rather than later. I don’t see why not – it depends on how quickly they recover from these races as to whether he can go on to Aintree – but it looks as though he will be looking for three miles. He was about in top gear all the way, but when he got there he did it well and he quickened up well. We’ve got a lot of debriefing to do, but it looks as though three miles would help him.
“He was good at Wetherby (on his last run in February); we had a problem here back in December when he had an issue with his back, which we actually had to have surgery on, so he did well to get back in time to get a race in at Wetherby before coming here for this. He’s a lovely horse and I had hoped he would at least give Envoi Allen at least a bit of a race.
“When you get given a chance like that, it’s nice to be able to take it, anyway. It’s a pity Envoi Allen fell, from a lot of points of view – he has looked flawless all year and it was a surprise to see him do that – but you’ve got to grab the chances when you get them.
“It’s very nice to have a winner for JP McManus; we’ve done a lot of talking through the week and we’ve had a couple of disappointments, but it’s nice to get back on the board for him because it’s very important to him, and all of us.”
Nico de Boinville told ITV Racing: “He was third in the Supreme last year, all credit to the team at home for bringing him back. He slightly struggled in the soft ground round here in December and I’m just absolutely delighted. I hope Envoi Allen is alright.
“It’s great for JP and his team, they put so much work into the sport and it’s fantastic to get the job done.
“I didn’t even know [Envoi Allen] had come down. I was wondering when he was going to come pick me up in the straight, so it’s news to me when and where he went.
“Never discount Nicky Henderson round here, or ever. It’s been a tough couple of months, but the horses seem to be returning to form. Trust in the Guv’nor!”
Willie Mullins, trainer of third-placed Asterion Forlonge said: “I’m very, very happy. He jumped straight and galloped the whole way to the line. I thought we had a little chance coming to the third last, but the ones in front just kept galloping. I’m very pleased with this fella and we’re thinking about potentially Fairyhouse for him next.”
Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Envoi Allen said: “Jack (Kennedy, jockey) just said he was a little bit keen. He just launched at the fence, unfortunately, and that was it. I’ve had a look at him though and he looked fine, and Jack’s fine too, so that’s good.”
JOCKEYS ON GROUND
Nico De Boinville (rider of the winner, Chantry House): “It’s good to soft, possibly a bit dead, but nice ground.”
Darragh O’Keefe (rider of fourth-placed Chatham Street Lad): “It’s nice ground, but it would be drying out a bit.”
Thursday 18th March
- 1st – Chantry House – Nicky Henderson 7-11-04 Nico de Boinville 9/1
- 2nd – Fusil Raffle – Nicky Henderson 6-11-04 Daryl Jacob 14/1
- 3rd – Asterion Forlonge – Willie Mullins 7-11-04 Paul Townend 14/1
- 8 ran
- 4-9 Fav Envoi Allen (fell 4th)
- Distances: 3, 2
- Time: 5m 1.75s
- Winning Owner: J P McManus (67th winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild)
- Breeder: M Conaghan
- Breeding: br g Yeats (IRE) – The Last Bank (IRE) (Phardante (FR))
- Nicky Henderson – 70th winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild
- Nico de Boinville – 13th winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild