Love Envoi did plenty wrong but still managed to gain a fourth successive victory in taking the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.
Harry Fry’s six-year old relishes deep winter ground and the heavy conditions at the Esher track played to her strengths, as they had done at Lingfield on her previous outing four weeks ago.
Jonathan Burke’s mount was on her toes in the paddock ahead of this step up to two and a half miles and was keen to post.
Yet when she did finally settle after pulling herself to the front down the back straight in the Grade Two event, she rarely looked like being beaten.
And while she managed to clatter through the penultimate flight, Burke remained composed and a better jump at the last sealed the deal, as the 10-11 favourite sauntered to a two-and-a-quarter-length success over the Speech Bubble.
Fry said: “She was tanking down the hill, Johnny just slowed her up and once she got to the front, she just settled.
“She kept coming out of his hands, kicked the second-last out of the ground and did everything she could to get herself beat – and still won.
“She was very keen the first day she won for us. Obviously, we dropped back to two miles the last day and we were back up in trip today. She was on her toes even before Johnny got on her and while it is great we won the race, the manner in which she has done it was not as professional as I would like – far from it.”
He went on: “Look, she is four from four, she has done brilliantly and I’m delighted for the whole (Noel Fehily Racing) syndicate. It is a great day for them. She has done plenty wrong, still won, and there is plenty improvement in terms of how we go about winning her races.
“We will enjoy this. A win is a win. We will worry about it the next day.”
On future plans, Fry said: “She is in the mares’ (novices’) hurdle at Cheltenham. It is only over two miles, but we will see how she comes out of this. Today was the plan. The one thing I would say is that it would have to be testing to go there.
“The other race we thought about was the Grade One mares’ novice at Fairyhouse at Easter, which we were lucky enough to win with Bitofapuzzle (in 2015). So we have options. We won a Class 2 the last day, we won a Grade Two today.
“We have made the most of conditions. After Warwick, we were going to come here, but we thought what is the point of waiting seven, eight weeks when she is a soft ground horse. Lingfield fitted in well. Maybe that’s why she has had fairly quick runs back-to-back. But we’ll see. There are some fairly nice options to be mulling over, that’s for sure.”