Punchestown Champion Novice Chase – Envoi Allen and Monkfish do battle!
2021 Punchestown Champion Novice Chase Preview
Envoi Allen v Monkfish
Undoubtedly one of the biggest pulls of next week’s Punchestown Festival is a potential face-off between two of the most exciting Irish-trained novice chasers in MONKFISH and Envoi Allen.
Whilst the potential improvement for the latter now stepping up to three miles is a concern, his current 5/4 odds look prohibitive when considering that he is arriving here on the back of a heavy fall in the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Perhaps the biggest concern though is the class of his opponent Monkfish – who rates the value play at odds-against (11/10) with both Paddy Power and Betfair.
Coming into next Tuesday’s contest on the back of a seven-race winning streak – his three most recent wins each coming at the highest level of jumps racing – Monkfish is quickly becoming one of the sports biggest stars.
He did not have to be at his best to win at Cheltenham last time out, but appeals as the type to do better once provided with a high-quality standard of opposition – a theory perhaps best validated by his victory in what has subsequently turned out to be a vintage renewal of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Chatham streets ahead of rest
Chatham Street Lad showcased his stamina for this trip when bounding clear in a Grade 3 at Limerick last month, and may provide the big two with most to think about, but it would be a notable concern that almost all of his best form has come when encountering ground with plenty of give, and therefore the dry forecast in the build up to next week is enough to put him off being an each-way selection.
Big Race Verdict
A real corker in prospect should both Envoi Allen and Monkfish make it here next week. Whilst Envoi has the potential to improve now tackling three miles for the first time under rules, it is Monkfish who is expected to come out on top. He has racked up a remarkable seven-race winning sequence – landing all four of his chase starts so far in minimal fuss.
This imposing son of Stowaway may not have been at his very best at Cheltenham last time, yet still managed to get the job done. There is a strong suspicion that we are yet to see the ceiling of Monkfish’s ability, so he is taken to capitalise on his market rival Envoi Allen’s less than ideal race preparation. With the Henry De Bromhead-trained Envoi having taken an uncharacteristic fall at Cheltenham last time out.
Alternatives to the big two are thin on the ground. The progressive Chatham Street Lad may prove best of the rest, albeit the dry weather forecast is not ideal for him, so the favoured option is to stick with Monkfish at his current 11/10 odds.