THANKS to brilliant Cork jockey Davy Russell, Envoi Allen lived up to the hype with a supreme display in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Unbeaten in seven career starts heading into the opening race on day two of the Festival - including in the Champion Bumper last season - the Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old was settled on the inside by Youghal's Russell.
At one point it looked as if long-time leader The Big Getaway had slipped the field, under another East Cork jockey Paul Townend coming down the hill, with only Rachael Blackmore covering the move on Easywork, who had been keen enough.
But an ice-cool Russell has not gained the experience of over 20 years in the saddle for nothing and began to make ground just before the turn for home.
On the long run to the last the 4-7 favourite quickened impressively and powered four and a quarter lengths clear up the hill. His stablemate Easywork stayed on gamely for second, with The Big Getaway third.