The unbeaten Impaire Et Passe will bid to showcase his Champion Hurdle credentials in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
Arguably the star of Willie Mullins’ band of novices over hurdles last term, the exciting five-year-old confirmed the promise of his smooth Moscow Flyer success when striking with authority at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring.
He is now a warm order to make a smooth transition to open company and provide his trainer with another contender to take on Constitution Hill back at Prestbury Park in March.
However, there may be a few nerves at Closutton ahead of their hot hurdling prospect’s reappearance, having seen Gold Cup hero Galopin Des Champs beaten on his return last weekend.
“Impaire Et Passe obviously won over two and a half in Cheltenham and the Hatton’s Grace was the obvious starting point,” said Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father.
“Stepping out of novice company is always difficult, but what he did to Gaelic Warrior and Champ Kiely in Cheltenham was a huge performance.
“We’ll be disappointed if he got beaten, but Galopin Des Champs got beaten last weekend.”
Impaire Et Passe is joined in the line-up by stablemate Ashroe Diamond, who has won her last two, both here at Fairyhouse, and secured Grade One honours over track and trip in her final outing of last term.
“Ashroe Diamond will run very well, with a view to going for the Mares’ Hurdle later in the year,” continued Mullins, who will enjoy steering duties aboard the likeable six-year-old.
“My mother bred her, she’s won in Aintree for the owners and won a Grade One in Fairyhouse.
“I thought her two runs behind Facile Vega and Marine Nationale last year were the two best runs by a mare last year. She’s a long way out on ratings (on Sunday), but I think when she drops back to mares only company, she’ll be giving everything plenty to think about.”
Teahupoo lowered the colours of Honeysuckle when staying on strongly to edge out Klassical Dream and Henry de Bromhead’s champion mare 12 months ago and Gordon Elliott’s Stayers’ Hurdle third will be attempting to repeat the dose in the hands of Jack Kennedy.
Last year’s victory was the fourth time Elliott has triumphed in the Grade One after Apple’s Jade dominated the contest between 2016 and 2018 and the Cullentra House team are also represented by the consistent Zanahiyr.
“I’ve got Teahupoo and Zanahiyr in the Hatton’s Grace and both horses have got good chances,” Elliott told Racing TV.
“Teahupoo on his form last year would probably be the pick of them, but whereas Zanahiyr wouldn’t mind a bit of better ground, Teahupoo would want as much rain as he can get.”
The field of five is complete by Paul Gilligan’s Buddy One, who steps out of handicap company in search of a hat-trick, having impressed at Cheltenham during the November meeting.
“Isn’t it great to have a horse to take on the big boys? That’s what we all want, one of these horses, and we have one now and it’s great,” said Gilligan.
“He’s won at Fairyhouse. We won’t get carried away, as we know exactly what’s facing us if he steps up to take on these guys.
“Impaire Et Passe is going to be hard to beat, Teahupoo is going to be hard to beat, but he could beat them – who’s to say he won’t?”
Other Recent Posts by This Author:
- Aintree officials confident of dealing with any attempt at protest repeat
- Willie Mullins starting to formulate National plans
- Handicapper says to expect just a handful of British-trained National starters
- Long-term National plan coming together for Cromwell and Vanillier
- Elliott assembling bumper squad in search of fourth National