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Punchestown Festival: Monkfish to clash with superstar rival Envoi Allen on day one

A cracking start to the Punchestown Festival sees two of the best novices’ in training prepare to battle

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Envoi Allen ridden by jockey Jack Kennedy on their way to winning the Sky Bet Killiney Novice Steeplechase (Grade 3) race at Punchestown Racecourse, County Kildare, Ireland.

Tuesday sees the beginning of the Punchestown Festival and a fascinating head-to-head is in store as the recent Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase winner Monkfish is set to take on Henry de Bromhead’s Envoi Allen in County Kildare.

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Willie Mullins’ Monkfish is yet to be beaten over fences and has secured three Grade 1’s to date, including his success at the Cheltenham Festival last month, as he heads the betting for the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novices’ Chase.

Monkfish made if four from four as a chaser and hopes to keep his unbeaten record over fences intact at the Punchestown Festival

Envoi Allen, meanwhile, saw his long-running undefeated reign come to a crashing end when he fell in the Marsh in Gloucestershire, snapping his 13-run win streak on his first appearance for new handler, De Bromhead.

WATCH: MONKFISH IS A WORKMANLIKE WINNER OF THE BROWN ADVISORY AS HE BIDS FOR MORE GLORY AT THE PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL [CREDIT: RACING TV]

Closutton chief Mullins will be responsible for 75% of the four-runner field, also saddling Mares’ Chase heroine Colreevy and Franco De Port.

Envoi Allen will now be partnered by Rachael Blackmore at the Punchestown Festival

Paul Townend, who potentially feared missing the five-day event through injury, has unsurprisingly opted to ride the Susanna Ricci owned gelding.

Colreevy ridden by jockey Paul Townend (right) on their way to winning the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase ahead of Elimay and Mark Walsh (left) during day four of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. Picture date: Friday March 19, 2021.
Townend rode Colreevy to success in the penultimate race of the Cheltenham Festival, the inaugural Mares’ Chase

Rachael Blackmore, on the other hand, will steer Envoi Allen for the first time instead of usual pilot Jack Kennedy.

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Ahead of the Punchestown Festival, 2021 Grand National-winning trainer De Bromhead told the Racing Post: “Rachael will ride Envoi Allen at Punchestown.

Runners and riders at Punchestown Racecourse
The Punchestown Festival gets underway on Tuesday, with two Grade 1 races on the agenda

“He seems to be in great order and worked really well the other day. I’ve been delighted with him.

Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore
Duo Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore recently won the 2021 renewal of the Grand National at Aintree

“It’s going to be fascinating to see him running over three miles for the first time and that will tell us a lot with regard to next year and what sort of route we might take for that campaign.”

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