Il Etait Temps takes Irish Arkle, as Marine Nationale disappoints

It Etait Temps completed a dream hour for Danny Mullins when winning the Goffs Irish Arkle at Leopardstown, where Marine Nationale was a huge disappointment back in fifth place.

Having already won the opening two Grade Ones on Dancing City and Kargese, Mullins was riding full of confidence, but faced huge opposition in the shape of Barry Connell’s unbeaten Marine Nationale – not to mention Facile Vega, a stablemate of the Willie Mullins-trained winner.

It was Gordon Elliott’s Found A Fifty who ensured there was to be no hanging about and with Facile Vega on his heels, there was no letting up in the pace.

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Sent off the 4-7 favourite, Marine Nationale had been settled in third, but his jumping was not as assured as on his debut and Il Etait Temps moved passed him down the back straight.

As the field turned in Marine Nationale briefly threatened to take a hand, but a bad mistake at the last sealed his fate.

Found A Fifty looked like he had done enough to hold on, but Il Etait Temps gamely dug in to win by a neck at 6-1.

The winner is now 5-1 from 14s for the Arkle at Cheltenham with Coral.

Willie Mullins and Danny Mullins celebrate winning the Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase with Il Etait Temps
Willie Mullins and Danny Mullins celebrate winning the Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase with Il Etait Temps (Damien Eagers/PA)

“Danny is just on fire today,” said Mullins.

“This horse is improving, his jumping is improving and he’s settling as well. He didn’t have much respect for hurdles, but he has far more respect for fences and that’s bringing out improvement in him.

“It just shows you that chasers come in all shapes and sizes, he’s not the biggest horse in the world. He’s obviously very effective over this trip and we’ll look forward to the Arkle in Cheltenham.

“He showed plenty of resolution and Danny just timed his run well.

“Facile Vega will probably stay at that trip as well. I was very happy with him, even though he got beaten. I saw a lot in the race to say that he’s coming along and improving as well.”

Il Etait Temps had plenty of ground to make up on Found A Fifty after the last
Il Etait Temps had plenty of ground to make up on Found A Fifty after the last (Damien Eagers/PA)

The jubilant winning rider said: “I think my mum cooked me eggs for breakfast and I’ll definitely be back tomorrow!

“That was a good performance, on known form I thought I’d be in the mix but he’s definitely improving.

“I don’t think the others bombed out, they ran their races and he was just better than them.”

Marine Nationale tasted the first defeat of his career
Marine Nationale tasted the first defeat of his career (Niall Carson/PA)

Jockey Michael O’Sullivan could offer no excuses for the beaten odds-on favourite and said: “He travelled very well, I followed Facile Vega and was where I wanted to be.

“He settled, travelled, jumped and did everything right but after the second-last he didn’t get into gear like he normally does.

“He made a mistake at the last, but I was easing off him by then. No excuses.

“He was a small bit careful over the fourth-last, but other than that I couldn’t put if forward as an excuse. I hope something will show up as he’s better than that. It’s just disappointing.”

On Found A Fifty, Elliott said: “I was gutted, but the horse and jockey didn’t do anything wrong. The horse ran a great race and just got touched off. He’s a good horse and he’ll go to Cheltenham with a chance.

“We knew it was going to be a tough couple of days and said if we could pull a winner out of each day we’d be happy.

“The horses are running well and we’ve a lot of nice horses at home.

“We might lose the battle over these couple of days, but we won’t lose the war. Cheltenham is only around the corner and we’re looking forward to it.”

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