‘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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Goodwood boss accepts the loss of the Group 3s, saying, “We need to take our share of the pain.”

The BHA issued a warning on Friday that removing nine races from Britain’s Flat Pattern and Listed program is only the beginning of an effort to improve the sport.

The Legacy Cup, which is held at Newbury, has lost its Group 3 status, as has the Supreme and March Stakes at Goodwood.

Along with three races from Windsor, the Denford Stakes, the Buckhounds Stakes (Ascot), and the Fairway Stakes (Newmarket) at that venue will no longer be listed races.

The modifications, which were suggested to the regulatory body by a committee that included top trainer William Haggas, were accepted by Goodwood managing director Adam Waterworth.

“We had to do something and we’ve done what I said we’d do; take our share of the pain, which is to lose two Group 3s,” Waterworth said.

“I don’t think there’s any debate about the March Stakes. It hasn’t worked. We’d love to see more runners and I’d love to have put more prize-money in but I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s not working as a race.”

“The Supreme Stakes, I’m genuinely disappointed about because we love that, but the committee and BHA team put the argument to us as to why, if we take that race out, it will help the seven-furlong pattern.”

“Although it weakens a meeting that is really important to us, I think, for the greater good of the sport we’ve done what we said we’d do. Everybody should be prepared to take their share of the pain because we’ve got to do something.”

The BHA director of international racing and racing development, Ruth Quinn, stated: “The quality and competitiveness of our Flat Pattern and Listed programme is fundamental, not just to the long-term reputation and sustainability of British racing, but also to the strength of the breed.”

“Work is under way, as part of the industry’s long-term strategy, to deliver substantive improvements to the way our racing is structured, presented and promoted.”

“This includes continually enhancing the performance of our black-type programme under both codes, and ensuring the best horses continue to be bred, owned, trained, and raced in Britain.”

“The changes to the programme for 2023 are the first of a series of measures, which aim to help address some of the immediate challenges in our black-type contests, particularly around field sizes and race competitiveness, ahead of further, more fundamental, improvements – with racecourses involved in the process from the outset – for 2024 and beyond.”

Quinn went on to say that the changes to the jumps schedule for the 2023–24 season would be announced before the Cheltenham Festival in March.


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“We’d expect to be banging winners in,” Honeyball says as the 38-day drought is over.

Blackjack Magic gave the yard a possible turning point for the remainder of the season with his 40th run, which brought Anthony Honeyball out of a slump.

The Dorset trainer typically thrives in the winter, but he had been struggling since December 3, and a bug is one of the possible causes of the drought.

The trainer also used a quiet spell to give vaccination shots, and he thinks it’s just been “misfiring” since.

Smart Casual, Honeyball’s last horse before Tuesday, ran well for a long distance at Ffos Las, giving the trainer confidence in the health of his group.

Blackjack Magic’s straightforward victory in the 3m novice handicap chase under Aidan Coleman added to that.

“It’s good to get the monkey off our back,” he said. “We’ve been a bit quiet, it’s been a combination of loads of factors which had been stopping them. Their blood tests have been saying don’t panic and they seem to be well. Then it’s just been a case of misfiring.

“Winning like that on this ground showed how healthy he, at least, is. It’s good to get that first win in the bank.”

The trainer acknowledges that the timing of his decline in form during crucial jumps season months is not ideal.

He continued, “If this happened through the summer then it’d be normal but it’s come at this time of year where we’ve put all our eggs in one basket to be ready to be firing.”

“We got to do our vaccinations early because they were running crap so at least we’ve got them out the way. We’d expect to be banging out a decent couple of winners but it’s just been a case of pressing pause. Now it’s the time to make hay.”

Nearly a year and a half after getting married, David Pipe and his wife Leanne are on their honeymoon. This meant that the trainer’s legendary father, Martin, was on the Pond House team.

The 15-time champion trainer was in attendance when Barrier Peaks won the handicap hurdle over 2m512 feet while he was in the Maldives.

It was a Scudamore in the saddle, a further nod to the past. Tom, the son of Pipe’s former stable jockey Peter, was aboard.

“David has gone on holiday to the Maldives so I’m here,” said Pipe. “He got married a while ago but there was Covid on so they’ve had to wait a bit!”

As part of the Racing to School program, Pipe was also on duty to teach Christow Primary School students his expertise.

He added: “I met the schoolkids and had my picture taken with them. They asked me if I thought we’d win a race, I said yes but told them the wrong one.

“I said the second race [with Anglers Crag] and we won the third. It’s great to see the youngsters here and enjoying themselves.”


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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
First Street
I Like To Move It
Jason The Militant
Knappers Hill
Love Envoi
Not So Sleepy
Pied Piper
Sir Gerhard
State Man

Mares’ Hurdle (24)

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

Stayers’ Hurdle (28)

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


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Beep Beep Burrow, the new horse that is aiming to raise money and awareness for Rob Burrow’s fight against motor neurone disease, will not make his debut on Tuesday at Doncaster because of a freak accident.

The six-year-old, whose name comes from the Leeds Rhinos nickname Beep Beep, was scheduled to compete in a bumper that had been renamed in his honor.

But trainer Jedd O’Keeffe said: “It’s unbelievably unlucky. We found him this morning lame in his box and found a haematoma between his front legs.

“We got the vet immediately and the vet found that he may have had a pin prick with a foreign body, or it might be as simple as an infected hair follicle. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those ever, never mind on the morning of a race.”

“I feel so sorry for all the people who have put in so much effort.”

Burrow was scheduled to be in Doncaster with his family to watch Beep Beep Burrow run, whose debut shouldn’t be delayed long.

“It shouldn’t keep him out long at all,” O’Keeffe said. “He may be able to race in ten or 12 days once the medication is out of his system. The good news is that he is okay.”

Phil Hawthorne of The Good Racing Co., which runs Beep Beep Burrow’s racing club, stated: “We got a call from Jedd this morning but fortunately it’s something and nothing, we hope he could be out on January 28 at Doncaster.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating. ITV News were sending a crew, so were the BBC and Sky Sports. We were going to get a fair bit of PR from it.”

Burrow has had motor neurone disease for three years. Last month, at the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year, he received the Helen Rollason award for his efforts to raise awareness of the disease. This award honors outstanding achievement in the face of adversity.

Kevin Sinfield, his former Leeds Rhinos teammate, received a special award in recognition of his enormous fundraising efforts for MND charities.

Along with Burrow Seven, a six-year-old who defied nagging setbacks to finish second in a bumper and third in a novice hurdle from four starts before a further injury forced him into retirement, fellow ex-Rhino Barrie McDermott also helped establish a racing club.


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Warwick entries are led by Stage Star

The eight horses competing in the Grade 2 Hampton Chase (1.50) at Warwick during the five-day stage are led by Grade 1 winner Stage Star.

The seven-year-old horse, trained by Nicholls, returned to winning ways earlier this month at Plumpton, finishing 11 lengths ahead of Mortlach.

The dependable Completely Unknown, who triumphed over seven rivals in his chasing debut at Ffos Las, may also represent the Ditcheat handler.

As the seven-year-old mare tries to get back to winning ways after pulling up in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day, Listed Winner Galia des Liteaux has an entry for Dan Skelton.

In the Grade 2 race, Gordon Elliott might ride Minella Crooner and The Goffer, and trainer John McConnell might ride Mahler Mission to help the Irish challenge.

The eight-man field is completed by Gentleman At Arms and the City Chief, trained by Nicky Henderson.

One of the 12 horses in contention for the Grade 2 Ballymore Novices Chase at Warwick (2.25) is Grey Dawning, a winner on Kempton’s Boxing Day card.

Due to the fact that the Grade 2 Persian War was landed at Chepstow earlier in the campaign, the Accidental Rebel, trained by Fergal O’Brien, may also appear.

Iwilldoit, the winner of the Welsh Grand National in 2021, is one of 20 horses entered in the 3m5f Classic Chase (3.00).

Nestor Park, Lord Du Mesnil, Fortescue, and Threeunderthrufive all have entries and are strong contenders.

Hampton Novices’ Chase entries
City Chief Nicky Henderson
Complete Unknown Paul Nicholls
Galia Des Liteaux Dan Skelton
Gentleman At Arms Stuart Edmunds
Mahler Mission John McConnell
Minella Crooner Gordon Elliott
Stage Star Paul Nicholls
The Goffer Gordon Elliott


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Pic D’Orhy and Saint Calvados lead a field of six in Saturday’s Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton (2.05), where champion trainer Paul Nicholls could saddle two runners.

The last time Pic D’Orhy was seen was when he won the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last month, finishing two lengths ahead of Millers Bank. He is a 33-1 favorite for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old horse is 2-2 this season. On his seasonal return in October, he also won a 2m5f intermediate chase at Newton Abbot.

Nicholls has won this race twice in the past three years, and Saint Calvados, owned by David Maxwell, may take advantage of the opportunity to run for the first time since coming in second place out of two in the 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.

Evan Williams, who is aiming for his first victory in the race, could be represented by Coole Cody, who defeated Saint Calvados that day.

Coole Cody competed twice at Cheltenham prior to his victory at Ascot, finishing seventh of 13 in a handicap hurdle over 2 miles 4 feet before pulling up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Clondaw Castle, a 160-rated Paint The Dream and Betfair Chase fourth seed, could compete, and Angels Breath has an opportunity to make his stable debut since joining the Sam Thomas yard from Nicky Henderson and making his first start since December 2019.

There are 27 entries in Kempton’s Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40), including the Camprond, trained by Philip Hobbs, and the Nicholls duo of Outlaw Peter and Red Risk.

Camprond, owned by JP McManus, is going back to hurdles after failing to get going over fences in either of his two starts this season.

With a 19-length victory at Exeter two months ago, Outlaw Peter made it three wins from eight career starts. Red Risk also won on their most recent appearances.

Pentland Hills, Henderson’s Grade 1 winner, could return, and the Seven Barrows trainer might also ride Captain Morgs and Rathmacknee.

Another possibility is the West Balboa, trained by Skelton, who finished second to Stage Star in the 2021 renewal of the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle.

Dubrovnik Harry, Fifty Ball, Le Patron, and Mark Of Gold, on the other hand, could represent Gary Moore in the competition.

Silviniaco Conti Chase entries
Angels Breath, Sam Thomas
Clondaw Castle, Tom George
Coole Cody, Evan Williams
Paint The Dream, Fergal O’Brien
Pic D’Orhy, Paul Nicholls
Saint Calvados, Paul Nicholls


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Could Grangeclare West be yet another class act for Willie Mullins? “He has a huge engine”:

Sunday: 2.20 Naas
Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) | 2m3f212y | 5yo+

The last seven favorites have won this Grade 1 race, including Bob Olinger and Envoi Allen, who went on to win the Ballymore. Grangeclare West will be trying to continue that pattern.

Willie Mullins, who has won this race eight times, could have run Gaelic Warrior, who finished second to Boodles and won at Tramore by 86 lengths in his only start this season.

He is not in the lineup at all, and Mullins has chosen Grangeclare West to lead his challenge instead. In November, the unbeaten seven-year-old won his first hurdles race at Navan by 13 lengths after sprinting clear of the last. At the time, it looked like a hot maiden, but it doesn’t anymore.

Since then, the second and third horses have lost, and none of the 12 horses that left the race and ran again have won. Grangeclare West, on the other hand, could only win, and he did so with skill.

The son of Presenting scored at Navan with a Racing Post Rating of 140, 5 pounds less than Dawn Rising’s victory over American Mike in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle on the same day.

The time comparison is the most interesting aspect. Dawn Rising beat Grangeclare West by 3.8 seconds to win the 2m4f maiden hurdle in a time of 5min 17.20sec. Take what you want from that. Despite the fact that they were different races that were run in different ways, it’s still fascinating to see the six-year-old trained by Joseph O’Brien win in a shorter amount of time and at a higher price.

Dawn Rising appears to be a foregone conclusion. On his final Flat start, the son of Galileo defeated Al Aasy in the Bahrain Trophy, earning a rating of 102. Expect him to return strongly given that there appears to be a lot of pace here. When he scored late at Navan, he defied Betfair’s in-running high of 499-1.

When it appeared that Affordale Fury had won his argument with American Mike, he dropped to evens in the same race and finished last. Could he have been overlooked here?

You could certainly argue that Irish Point is the best form. Last time, he was close to winning the Royal Bond, but Supreme-bound Marine Nationale caught him too late. Given that this was only his second start over hurdles, he put in a strong effort, and he could be even better over this longer distance. Gordon Elliott, who has won four of the last six races, must have a big chance with him.

Paul Townend admitted that he was surprised by the manner in which he won the maiden hurdle at Navan in November, describing his jumping as “brilliant,” and he named West Grangeclare West as his primary threat to the race.

With McKinley in 2015 and Next Destination three years later, Townend has won this race twice. The five-time champion jockey believes that Inothewayurthinkin could be his biggest threat.

Townend stated, “This is a hot race every year and fits in well with the calendar. Grangeclare West won a competitive maiden hurdle at Navan and the manner in which he won it surprised us after being off the track for so long. He jumped brilliantly that day and did things right. I think he has a huge engine. He missed a lot of time after winning at Punchestown in May of 2021 but he seems to be fine now and I hope we can make up for lost time.”

Townend added in his Ladbrokes blog post: “Irish Point was second in the Royal Bond and that is a high level of form to bring here. I do like Inothewayurthinkin. He beat me quite snugly at Cork when I rode Lot Of Joy and then did well to get up to beat Imagine at Gowran in a slowly run race the last day. I think the step up in trip will suit him as well. I hope I’m on the right one and it will be a cracking renewal.”




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Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, Sandown

Paul Nicholls won the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle for the fifth time on Saturday when Harry Cobden rode Tahmuras to victory.

Tahmuras, owned by a syndicate formed by former jockeys Noel Fehily and Dave Crosse, traveled well but wandered in the final stages, but it was strong enough to defeat L’Astroboy with Nemean Lion coming in third.

The winner, who returned at 5-2, is now 10-1 (from 33) with Paddy Power and Betfair for the Cheltenham Festival’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Constitution Hill, who won the Tolworth a year ago, was the last horse to win that race. Summerville Boy also did the double in 2018.

Tahmuras is also quoted as 10-1 (from 20) by Betfair and Paddy Power for the festival’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Cobden said, after winning his first Tolworth, “He’s a good horse. As soon as he’s got the front, he’s idled a fair bit, but the ground’s pretty testing. If something was to get him beat it was that, but he’s obviously very good.”

“The mistake [two out] probably helped me because I didn’t get there ten minutes too soon – it was only five! He’s a lovely horse who will keep progressing. We’ll definitely see him at his best when he steps up in trip; the only reason he’s winning now over two miles is because he’s so good.”

Tahmuras was a point-to-point winner in Ireland when he was younger before joining Nicholls’ Ditcheat operation. He is the son of Falco, a top-class miler in France. After that, he won a bumper at Wincanton and got off to a great start in his hurdling career with impressive victories at Chepstow and Haydock in November.

Fehily said, “He’s not too dissimilar to Summerville Boy, whom I rode in this race. He’s probably a better jumper, but he stays well and has a lot of ability; he’s getting better with every run.”

Crosse added, “I’d say we’d 100 per cent be going for it [the Supreme]. We had a taste of Cheltenham glory last year with Love Envoi and we want more of it but we’ll speak to Paul.

“When we bought this horse as a four-year-old, all he did was grow and mature. We thought he’d step up in grade over two and a half miles, but he’s shown a lot more speed and keeps answering. He couldn’t have been more impressive today and has the world at his feet.”

Nicholls previously won the Tolworth with Thisthatandtother, Noland, Silverburn, and Breedsbreeze. Bravemansgame (King George VI Chase) and Hermes Allen (Challow) have helped him win three British Grade 1s in a row.

King George winner Clan Des Obeaux is back in training as his recovery continues after his suspensory tendon injury and could be set to return in the spring for Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

The Paul Nicholls-trained 11-year-old has won five Grade Ones and is targeting a record third Betway Bowl title on tof he 13th April.

Clan Des Obeaux has finished in the top two in 21/31 races, earning prize money in excess of £1 million. He was last raced when finishing second to Allaho in the Punchestown Gold Cup in April. He had won the same race a year before.

Nicholls said, “He’s fine and just started back in work so we’re going to see if we can get him to Aintree. It’s a long way down the line but that’s what we’re aiming for.”

The trainer landed this season’s King George with Bravemansgame, who is now targeting the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Frodon, who managed a respectable third place, has been entered for the Gold Cup but his path will likely depend on his his next start with Taunton’s Portman Cup a likely option.

Nicholls said: “Frodon showed all his usual enthusiasm at Kempton and came out of the race well. He’ll either run in the Portman Cup at Taunton [January 21] if we’re happy with him or possibly the Denman Chase at Newbury [February 11]. He has an entry for the Gold Cup but we’ll see what happens on his next start and make a plan from there.”

Hitman bled in the King George and was pulled up by Sam Twiston-Davies, and will be readied for the spring.

“He made that bad mistake and had a small bleed at Kempton but he’s absolutely fine now and cantering away,” said Nicholls. “There’s no plan for him yet but he’ll be back out in the spring.”




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