Envoi Allen tunes up for Cheltenham treble tilt with simple win in Killiney Novice Chase

Trainer Gordon Elliott will ramp up Envoi Allen’s training schedule to give the gelding a steelier edge before trying to win for a third time at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Jack Kennedy-ridden odds-on favourite made it 11 victories from 11 races under rules with a three-and-a-half length win from Fils D’Oudairies in the Killiney Novice Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.

But the race was effectively over as a meaningful test for Envoi Allen when chief rival Asterion Forlonge, the 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fourth, fell at the first fence.

Gordon Elliott (R) gives a thumbs-up after watching Envoi Allen romp to a win at Punchestown

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That left Envoi Allen in the lead and Kennedy only had to apply minimum pressure to the accelerator to win.

Envoi Allen, who is odds-on favourite for the Marsh Novices’ Chase, has now won three novice chases without breaking sweat.

Elliott said: ‘We will have to up his work a bit before Cheltenham.

‘He does everything so easily at home and there is plenty of improvement in him. It was a bit of an anti-climax when the other horse went at the first.’

Kennedy added that Envoi Allen had shown his professionalism by not being distracted as Asterion Forlonges and Sempo — who he had brought down — ran loose throughout the race.

Jack Kennedy rode Envoi Allen to a routine win and now attention will turn to Cheltenham

Kennedy said: ‘The loose horses had my heart in my mouth a few times. They crossed over me, but Envoi Allen is so honest, he never took his eye off the fence. He’s unbelievable and a very clever horse.’

Envoi Allen holds entries for next month’s Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown, but Elliott said those were insurance in case Irish horses are prevented from travelling to Britain because of Covid-19. The intention is to head straight to the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Meanwhile, Dreal Deal will go for one of the novice hurdles at the Festival after a last-to-first home straight surge for trainer Ronan McNally and jockey Denis O’Regan to win the Grade Two Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.

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Billy Vunipola claims he is ‘all in’ for Saracens next game in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup

Billy Vunipola is keen to continue his unusual preparation for Scotland in the Six Nations — with a trip to Doncaster.

The England No 8 played his first match since December 6 in a surprise 27-26 Saracens defeat by Ealing on Saturday.

Ealing thoroughly deserved their win, in which hooker Alun Walker scored twice and wing Angus Kernohan took another try — but Vunipola said he enjoyed swapping Twickenham for the Trailfinders Sports Club nonetheless.

Billy Vunipola (above) is set to play in Saracens’ next Trailfinders Challenge Cup game

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‘I thought it was good,’ said the 28-year-old. ‘It was good to play with the young boys who were as keen as anything. That just rubs off on me. The biggest thing is that we learn to take control of the game. If we want to come straight back up, it’s a good game for us.’

Asked if he was keen to make the trip to Castle Park, the next venue for Saracens in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup, Vunipola said: ‘At the moment I’m all in. 

‘We’ve been training on rubber crumb so I’d like to get on some grass. I hope it is quite muddy up in Doncaster — I’m keen to get my elbows and knees dirty!’

Vunipola says he is ‘all in’ for travelling to Castle Park in Doncaster for the upcoming fixture

He also hopes it will be ‘muddy up in Doncaster’ as he is keen to get his ‘elbows and knees dirty’

Vunipola became a father in November, making him want to lead more on and off the field.

‘It’s a way I can improve my game, as I can stay on a level keel rather than being on a rollercoaster ride with my emotions.

‘With him the age he is, it gives me a bit of extra motivation to set him up for the future.’

Vunipola cannot wait to join up with England, too — initially at St George’s Park, usually reserved for football — to prepare for the Six Nations.

‘It has that club feel to it,’ he said of the England environment. ‘You don’t go in the dining room and think, “I’m going to come back later because I don’t want to sit at that table”.

‘I just hope the Wi-Fi is good! I hear St George’s Park is out in the sticks and I love watching eating videos, bodybuilding and random stuff like eating challenges — Beard v Food, he is the man!’

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Turkish side Kasimpasa interested in teaming up Chelsea outcast Danny Drinkwater with Ravel Morrison

Kasimpasa, who are signing Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater on loan, have expressed an interest in free agent Ravel Morrison. 

Earlier this month Morrison cancelled his deal at Dutch side ADO Den Haag by mutual consent.

Morrison had signed for ADO Den Haag on a season-long contract but made just five appearances. 

Turkish side Kasimpasa have expressed an interested in signing free agent Ravel Morrison

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The 27-year-old, who recently became a Jamaica international, has had a nomadic career since his departure from West Ham in 2015.

Morrison started out at Manchester United, playing with Paul Pogba at youth level, and was widely seen as a player with vast potential.

27-year-old Morrison  has had a nomadic career since his departure from West Ham in 2015

Morrison could link up with Chelsea’s Danny Drinkwater, who is set to join Kasimpasa on loan

If Morrison joins Kasimpasa then he is likely to link up with Chelsea outcast Drinkwater, who is poised to join the Turkish side on loan.

Drinkwater has played just 23 times for Chelsea since joining the Blues in 2017.

Last week the midfielder arrived in Istanbul to undergo a medical and agree the final paperwork.

Drinkwater reached an agreement to join Kasimpasa on January 6 but the deal was held up by Covid guidelines and restrictions on travel.  

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