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Love conquers all in Mares’ contest at Cheltenham

Love Envoi took her unbeaten record to six when landing a highly-popular success in the Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Trained by Harry Fry, the six-year-old is owned by the Noel Fehily Racing Syndicate. It was a fitting verdict as the former jumps jockey announced his retirement plans after landing the same race on Eglantine Du Seuil in 2019.

Jonathan Burke, given the task of riding the mare, put the opposition under pressure when he kicked on after jumping the second-last flight.

Love Envoi (15-2) kept on strongly up the hill to win by a length and a quarter from Ahorsewithnoname for a fifth hurdle triumph plus one in a bumper. Grangee was a length and a half back in third place with Nurse Susan fourth.

Harry Fry trains Love Envoi
Harry Fry trains Love Envoi (Tim Goode/PA)

Fehily said: “What a performance. It was nerve-racking stuff. She is so tough and wouldn’t know when to give up. She stays two and a half. Johnny (Burke) had the perfect pitch all the way and he produced her perfectly. We’ve had a such a season with her – she’s six from six now.

“Myself and Dave (Crosse, former jockey) went to Newmarket to look at her and we went back the following day and bought her. We were so lucky to get her.”

Crosse, who runs the syndicate with Fehily, said: “We both have to agree on horses. It works well. Two heads are always better than one.”

Fry, too, was delighted with the performance. He said: “She’s a brilliant mare and doesn’t know when she’s beaten.

“She’s won five on the bounce. It’s funny as Unowhatimeanharry came here after an unbeaten campaign as a novice and got his head in front and sometimes these horses don’t know what it is to lose a race.

“Johnny gave her a lovely ride. Turning in I thought we were right where we wanted to be and with a good jump at the last, we knew she’d stay on well up the hill.

“It’s brilliant for Noel and the syndicate. I said to them last week when the ground was good and they were watering, ‘are we losing our heads running here?’. But they said confirm her and we’ll see.

“I was watching the racing on Tuesday and they were breaking the track record and I was thinking ‘we can forget running Love Envoi’, then of course yesterday happened.

“The last day she did everything wrong and still won, so we put a lot of thought into today and getting her to not run her race beforehand.

“I’m absolutely delighted for everybody. I don’t know whether we’ll run again this year. We’ll just enjoy today and see how she is.”

Nico de Boinville, rider of runner-up Ahorsewithnoname, said: “It was a great run that belied her price. I’m delighted with her.”

Jack Cantillon, spokesman for Syndicates Racing who own third-placed Grangee, said: “She ran a great race and had to come from a long way back.

“The mares’ hurdle over two-miles-four is something to maybe consider next season but she could now go to Punchestown or Fairyhouse.”

Dan Skelton, trainer of the fourth home Nurse Susan, said: “It was a very good run and we’re looking forward to putting her over fences next season.”

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