Kieswetter hails ‘unbelievable’ season for Il Etait Temps

Craig Kieswetter is backing Il Etait Temps to continue punching above his weight when he returns from a well-earned rest next season.

The pint-sized six-year-old is owned by the Kieswetter family’s Barnane Stud in conjunction with their partners at the Hollywood Syndicate and the former England international cricketer has revelled in Il Etait Temps’ heroics this year as he has picked up three Grade One prizes over fences.

After three attempts, a victory at the Cheltenham Festival remains elusive, so correcting that record and competing in some of the year’s biggest chasing events will be top of the Willie Mullins-trained grey’s agenda when he returns from a summer at grass.

“We’ll give him a good break now and come out again battling and fighting next year,” said Kieswetter.

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Il Etait Temps in action at Punchestown
Il Etait Temps in action at Punchestown (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We’ve been trying for a good few years to get the win at Cheltenham and hopefully it will come, but we have to enjoy everything this lad has done for us already.

“Il Etait Temps has had a ridiculous season. Three Grade one wins and placed in some other big races – he’s won the Irish Arkle, Aintree and now Punchestown, it’s unbelievable.

“I was just happy to experience one of his big days as a lot of the time I’ve been in South Africa, so it was great to be on course and I’m very much looking forward to giving plenty of the top horses a run for their money next year with our tiny little horse.”

Having captured the Irish Arkle and Manifesto Novices’ Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival and Aintree respectively, Il Etait Temps turned the tables on Cheltenham Festival scorer Gaelic Warrior to top a brilliant year in the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase at the season-ending Punchestown Festival.

Craig Kieswetter leads in Il Etait Temps after victory at Punchestown
Craig Kieswetter leads in Il Etait Temps after victory at Punchestown (Brian Lawless/PA)

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South African-based Kieswetter has struggled to catch most of his champion’s triumphs in person this term, but was delighted to be trackside at Punchestown for this end-of-year highlight.

“What a day, I landed from Cape Town the day before, popped in for the race and it was unbelievable,” he said.

“The crowd at Punchestown is outstanding and he might be tiny, but he’s mighty. Gaelic Warrior made him look like a lead pony in the parade ring, so it was pretty cool to see him win. He’s very unique in his look and it goes to show size doesn’t always matter, it’s the size of your heart.

“Danny (Mullins) gave him a peach of a ride and was really patient on him and it was just an awesome day. Gaelic Warrior is an impressive horse both to look at and in his race record and in any graded race, you come up against proper champions and he’s exceeded all expectations.”

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