‘I think he’s very smart’ – stylish Impaire Et Passe impresses Paul Townend.

 

Paul Townend is impressed by the stylish Impaire Et Passe and says, “I think he’s very smart.”

Sunday: Punchestown, Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle

With an impressive performance in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, a Grade 2 race that Willie Mullins has used as a springboard for superstars like Vautour and Douvan, Impaire Et Passe made it two wins out of two over hurdles in Ireland.

The most important question is whether Impaire Et Passe will target the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore. Sky Bet has dropped him to 11-2 (from 8) for the Supreme and to 6-1 (from 9) for the Ballymore.

Paul Townend had the 1-3 favorite close to the pace throughout the race, which was mostly run steadily and very tactical. He took control in the straight to win going away by six and a half lengths from good yardstick The Model Kingdom.

The previously unbeaten mare Shecouldbeanything, who withdrew for the majority of the race before becoming sluggish from the second turn, was eight lengths behind.

Townend was pleased and impressed by the winner’s performance because it appears that she does not show much on the gallops.

“As I said after he won at Naas, he does not show us that at home, but he showed a good turn of foot today,” he said. “I was very happy with him. He jumped like a buck and the only hurdle he was slow at was the last.”

“It’s hard to know how good he is because he shows so little at home yet does it on the track. I think he’s very smart and he gave me a great feel today.”

“He jumped only four hurdles at Naas, but how he jumped there was very good and he didn’t miss a beat today apart from the last, which I wouldn’t worry about.”

Townend provided the following response when asked about the return to two miles after winning over two miles and three furlongs the previous time: “It was a worry and the ground was soft enough, but he showed pace out there. Wherever he goes I wouldn’t mind being on his back.”

David Casey, the assistant trainer, said: “He did it all right. Paul said he didn’t do a huge amount in front and he had loads in the tank. He was a bit sharper than he was at Naas and he is going in the right direction.”

“Jumping fences will be his forte. To come back in trip like he did was good as well, especially on the sharp inside track here, and he is still learning. He will have all the entries [for Cheltenham].”

The Model Kingdom, the runner-up, delighted her trainer Noel Meade because she had excellent form against mares going into this.

“I would say there is every chance she’ll go to Cheltenham for the mares’ novice, the owners are mad keen to go,” said Meade.

“I would say that was as good a run as she’s had. The tongue-tie helped but the ground helped too. I think the ground at Thurles last time was probably too quick for her.”

“We are very happy with that. I don’t know if she’ll get up the hill at Cheltenham, but there’s only one way to find out.”

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On Tuesday, both Honeysuckle and Constitution Hill were among 17 entries for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 14—a step closer to the highly anticipated contest.

Constitution Hill, trained by Nicky Henderson, is unbeaten and won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by 22 lengths over stablemate Jonbon, arguably the festival’s best performance.

Honeysuckle, who suffered her first defeat at Fairyhouse last month in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, may complete her sensational career with a hat trick in the feature on day one of the festival.

Willie Mullins, who may also be represented by Vauban, Sir Gerhard, Sharjah, and Echoes In Rain, has entered State Man as one of Constitution Hill’s greatest threats.

The number of entries for the 2m12f competition at this stage last year was 23; this year, there were only 17 entries.

Honeysuckle is still running in the Mares’ Hurdle, but Epatante is not there.

After Marie’s Rock was one of 24 horses entered, Henderson will also have a leading contender in the Mares’ Hurdle. Honeysuckle is also in the running, despite connections favouring the Champion Hurdle once more.

With an emphatic victory in the Relkeel Hurdle on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham, Marie’s Rock is the ante-post favourite to retain the Mares’ crown she won last year at odds of 18-1.

Epatante, her stablemate, was omitted by Henderson from the 2m4f Grade 1 entries, but she could be added later. Additionally, she is entered in the Champion Hurdle.

With Grade 1 winners Brandy Love and Echoes In Rain entered, Mullins is expected to hold a strong hand, and he may also be represented by Shewearsitwell, Braganza, and Gauloise. Mullins has won this race nine times since it was first introduced in 2008, six of those victories coming with Quevega.

Porter is flooring in pursuit of a Stayers hat trick.

Flooring Porter, who leads a field of 28 for the day-three highlight, will attempt to win the Stayers’ Hurdle for the third time in a row.

Home By The Lee, a fellow Irish raider who has defeated Flooring Porter twice this season, will present the eight-year-old, who is trained by Gavin Cromwell, with a formidable obstacle.

After winning the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown in style last month, Joseph O’Brien’s team is 6-1 with most companies.

It is anticipated that Paisley Park will also compete for Emma Lavelle. Paisley Park has finished third to Flooring Porter in this race the past two years. On Boxing Day, the veteran showed off his class by winning the Long Walk Hurdle at Kempton.

Champ, who won the Newbury Long Distance Hurdle over Paisley Park, was not entered.

The number of entries for the Stayers’ Hurdle has decreased since 2022, when 33 entries were received.

Entry lists in full

Champion Hurdle (17)

Bob Olinger
Constitution Hill
Echoes In Rain
Epatante
First Street
Honeysuckle
I Like To Move It
Jason The Militant
Knappers Hill
Love Envoi
Not So Sleepy
Pied Piper
Sharjah
Sir Gerhard
State Man
Vauban
Zanahiyr

Mares’ Hurdle (24)

Ailie Rose
Anna Bunina
Bop Bop Bobbin
Braganza
Brandy Love
Echoes In Rain
Gauloise
Get A Tonic
Holly Hartingo
Honeysuckle
Indefatigable
Lady Adare
Love Envoi
Marada
Marie’s Rock
Midnight Ginger
Molly Ollys Wishes
Queens Brook
Royale Margaux
Santa Rossa
Shewearsitwell
Skyace
Telmesomethinggirl
West Balboa

Stayers’ Hurdle (28)

Ashdale Bob
Asterion Forlonge
Beacon Edge
Blazing Khal
Botox Has
Buzz
Chacun Pour Soi
Dashel Drasher
Flooring Porter
Gelino Bello
Goshen
Haut En Couleurs
Hewick
Home By The Lee
Indefatigable
Klassical Dream
Langer Dan
Marie’s Rock
Monkfish
Paisley Park
Saint Sam
Sams Profile
Sharjah
Sir Gerhard
Sire Du Berlais
Summerville Boy
Teahupoo
Zanahiyr

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Trainer Philip Hobbs says that the impressive Thyme Hill, will go to Ascot next for his Cheltenham Festival preparation. He is currently the shortest-priced British-trained horse in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

The Grade One-winning hurdler quelled the fears over his jumping last Monday, when winning the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton by 15 lengths.

Thyme Hill is best-priced 10-1 to land the 3 mile contest which would be a second victory forPhilip Hobbs, after One Knight’s win in 2003. However, it should be a very competitive affair with recent top-level winners Gaillard Du Mesnil and Gerri Colombe at the top of the market at 8-1.

“He’s come out of the race well,” said Hobbs. “I presume we’ll be looking at a race like the Reynoldstown next for him before we think about Cheltenham.”

Hobbs thinks the testing conditions at Kempton suited his runner, who reversed Newbury form with McFabulous, and will now target the race O’Faolains Boy won before going on to land the Brown Advisory in 2014.

Hobbs said: “I think it was a combination of the cheekpieces, soft ground and a strong pace which saw him improve.”

The victory was a third at the top level and second over fences for Thyme Hill. Thyme Hill started chasing at the relatively late age of eight.

 

 

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