Tag Archive for: Craig Kieswetter

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.

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)

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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Kieswetter savouring Temps triumph from afar

Craig Kieswetter may have been watching at home in Cape Town, but he still roared home Il Etait Temps as he landed his second Grade One of the season at Aintree.

The former England international cricketer is now a key part of his family’s racing operations and under their Barnane-stud banner, owns the pint-sized Willie Mullins-trained grey along with partners the Hollywood Syndicate.

A top-level scorer for the first time over fences at the Dublin Racing Festival, he had to settle for third in the Arkle before showing his class up in trip at Liverpool in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase, romping to a nine-length success.

It was the six-year-old’s third Grade One success overall and the former England wicket-keeper was keen to pay tribute to the star performer of his family’s National Hunt string.

Kieswetter said: “I’m absolutely delighted and to win like that, by over nine lengths, was incredible. I’m back in Cape Town but I’m sure they would have heard me shouting him home.

“It was fantastic to have my old man over there at Aintree along with Ross Doyle and Peter Wynn Jone. They flew over in the morning to watch the race and it was a great trip over for them.

“All Grade Ones are big races and that takes our tally up to three now and it could have been more. He’s come up against some proper horses, which you do in Grade Ones, and he’s small but mighty.

“He’s got a huge heart that is probably triple times the size he is physically, but he certainly gives it his all every time and he’s a fantastic horse to be part of.”

Craig Kieswetter in action for England
Craig Kieswetter in action for England (Rui Viera/PA)

Despite tasting success at Royal Ascot, the Punchestown Festival and now Aintree’s Grand National Festival, Kieswetter and the Barnane team are still searching for an elusive first success at the Cheltenham Festival.

Il Etait Temps has visited Prestbury Park for the showpiece meeting on three occasions, with this year’s Arkle third the best of his trio of efforts, and the 36-year-old hopes with experience, the gelding can continue to ply his trade on the biggest days.

Kieswetter continued: “The ground probably suited him and Aintree being flatter probably helped – he runs well at Leopardstown which we know. Hopefully with a bit more experience he can go back to Cheltenham and challenge again.

Il Etait Temps in action at Aintree
Il Etait Temps in action at Aintree (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

“He has an option at Punchestown and I’m not sure if Willie will run him or not, but if he does run I’ll definitely be there.

“To have horses like these is what sport and this industry is about, it’s about having dreams and when you get one you can jump along and have a good time with, it makes it all worthwhile.

“We’re delighted for Willie and his team and of course we have to congratulate our partners. As always we have to thank Peter, Ross and Anna Doyle who play such a huge part in the team at Barnane and it’s always fantastic to have them involved.”

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Echoes In Rain seeking perfect Festival farewell

Craig Kieswetter is excited for one last crack at the Cheltenham Festival with Echoes In Rain, who will head to Prestbury Park for her racecourse swansong next month bidding to bring the curtain down on her career with a fairytale success.

Former England cricket star Kieswetter is a key figure in his family’s Barnane Stud alongside brother Ross and stud manager Patrick Wynn-Jones, with Echoes In Rain proving to be the star performer of their jumps string over the years.

Trained by Willie Mullins, she has won nine of her 30 career starts across both codes, with her finest hours coming at the Punchestown Festival where she won Grade Ones both as a novice in 2021 and then two years later against her fellow mares.

However, she has found success at the Cheltenham Festival harder to come by and will be given one final chance to conquer the Cotswolds before moving on to be a part of Barnane’s broodmare band.

Paul Townend celebrates after winning aboard Echoes In Rain at the Punchestown Festival
Paul Townend celebrates after winning aboard Echoes In Rain at the Punchestown Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

“She’s going to head to Cheltenham and it will probably be her final hurrah before we take her back to Barnane Stud to start her career as a broodmare,” said Kieswetter.

“She’s a real fighter and every time we ask a question of her, she goes for it. For a mare who tries her hardest every single time, she’s had to come up against the likes of Honeysuckle and State Man all the way through her career.

“We’ve had some fantastic fun with her. I was there when she got pipped on the line in the Irish Cesarewitch, Rachael (Blackmore) jumped off and was devastated, but she has given us some fantastic times.

“We are looking forward to one final outing with her and then she can start her new career.”

Echoes in Rain on the gallops at Willie Mullins’ yard
Echoes in Rain on the gallops at Willie Mullins’ yard (Niall Carson/PA)

Last year Echoes In Rain had to settle for a minor role as regular adversary Honeysuckle bowed out in style in the Mares’ Hurdle and Kieswetter feels that race is the most likely for Echoes In Rain’s final appearance, rather than stepping up to face the might of Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle.

He continued: “We’ll have a discussion with Willie and his team and see which direction they want to go. I’m suspecting it will probably be the Mares’ Hurdle, but you never know.

“Willie won all the Grade Ones at Leopardstown and is operating at a ridiculous strike-rate and is the best, we are more than happy to just follow the advice of where he wants to go.”

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Cricket ace Kieswetter hails Mullins for Il Etait Temps success

Craig Kieswetter has paid tribute to the training prowess of Willie Mullins, as the former England cricketer begins to dream of Cheltenham Festival glory with Leopardstown scorer Il Etait Temps.

Owned by the Kieswetter family’s Barnane Stud in conjunction with the Heffer family’s Hollywood Syndicate, the six-year-old struck at the Dublin Racing Festival for the second year in a row.

Having lowered the colours of Facile Vega over hurdles 12 months ago, Il Etait Temps was back to cause another upset in the Irish capital, this time the beneficiary of Marine Nationale’s Irish Arkle no show, as he battled past Found A Fifty in the hands of Danny Mullins for his second Grade One success.

The South Africa-born Kieswetter played 71 times for England in white-ball internationals and is also a scratch golfer, having competed on both the PGA EuroPro Tour and MENA Golf Tour since his retirement from cricket.

Craig Kieswetter played white-ball cricket for England
Craig Kieswetter played white-ball cricket for England (Andrew Matthews/PA)

As such, he is well qualified to judge sporting excellence and has always spoken in glowing terms of Il Etait Temps’ trainer, the master of Closutton.

“He’s probably along the lines of a Messi or Ronaldo or a Schumacher – he’s a champion,” said Kieswetter when explaining what makes Mullins so prolific.

“He’s going to go down as one of the all-time greats, but there is still plenty of life in the old dog yet. He certainly isn’t ready to hand over the reins yet and you can see how passionate and energetic and driven he is to keep winning and getting the results.”

The 36-year-old also reserved plenty of praise for Il Etait Temps and his jockey, as they both advertised their class at the back-end of a thrilling renewal of the two-mile Grade One event.

“It was very impressive and it might have just been fate or destiny with it being a year to the day since he won his first Grade One,” continued Kieswetter.

“We were delighted and it was another terrific ride from Danny (Mullins) – I was very hoarse the next day after shouting so loudly at the TV.

“It was terrific to have Ross Doyle there on course; Peter, Ross and Anna Doyle are good friends of the family and sourced the horse for us, so it is fantastic that they were there.

“He’s quite a difficult horse to follow I suppose, because his jumping – even though it is getting better than it was over hurdles – is still quite inconsistent and he is certainly a horse who puts you through the full range of emotions when you are watching a race.”

Il Etait Temps’ gutsy triumph came on a weekend where Mullins claimed all eight Grade One prizes on offer at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Mullins’ dominance at one of Ireland’s premier meetings left people questioning if his superiority is diminishing the competitive nature of the sport.

However, Kieswetter has leapt to Mullins’ defence – highlighting his winning mentality and great ability to treat every owner and horse among his vast arsenal equally.

“I have read articles questioning if it is good for the industry that Willie is dominating, but at the end of the day, Willie Mullins provides results and this is a results-based sport,” continued Kieswetter.

Trainer Willie Mullins won all available Grade Ones at the Dublin Racing Festival
Trainer Willie Mullins won all available Grade Ones at the Dublin Racing Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

“With Willie and his team – not only his management team, but the whole staff – you have never once had a feeling of bias in the yard, which is probably a very difficult thing for them to do.

“Every single horse is treated equally and given the opportunity to run their race, no matter how many he may also saddle in the same race.

“You go to Closutton and you see the professionalism of Willie and his staff. What we have always been impressed with about Willie is he gives a lot of ownership to his staff in terms of the horses, which is impressive to see.

“His results speak for themselves and we have always been delighted to be associated with him.

“He’s set up a model at his yard that works and I think it is a bit unfair for the industry to be having a crack at him and saying it is the Willie Mullins Festival. The drive at the yard is very impressive and very fun to be a small part of.”

Il Etait Temps returns after victory at Leopardstown
Il Etait Temps returns after victory at Leopardstown (Damien Eagers/PA)

Il Etait Temps is now the general second-favourite for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and, having twice ran with credit at the showpiece meeting, has connections excited ahead of his third bite of the Prestbury Park cherry.

Kieswetter added: “Horse racing is about selling the dream and I’ve never enjoyed going into a race with lots of media and talk about a horse, but he has certainly proven that he deserves to be not taken lightly.

“We will certainly be over there and we’re excited every year for Cheltenham – and we can’t wait to be there cheering on Il Etait Temps with the team.”

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Kieswetter dreaming of Gold Cup glory with Rain

Craig Kieswetter is dreaming the next stage of the Echoes In Rain journey leads to an Ascot Gold Cup triumph as the former England international cricketer has eyes for only one trophy at Royal Ascot.

Kieswetter was named man of the match in the World Cup Final when England conquered the cricketing world at the 2010 T20 World Cup. But since crossing the boundary for the final time at the tender age of 27, he has gone on to play a major role in Barnane Stud and now stands on the brink of reaching the pinnacle of Flat racing when the standard bearer of his family’s racing operation lines up in Thursday’s main event.

Trained by Willie Mullins, Echoes In Rain has raced 23 times in a dual-purpose career that has seen her win nine times, striking at Grade One level twice – including on her most recent outing at the Punchestown Festival when she arguably produced a career best, romping to an imperious nine-and-a-half-length victory.

Jockey Paul Townend celebrates on Echoes In Rain after winning at the Punchestown Festival
Jockey Paul Townend celebrates on Echoes In Rain after winning at the Punchestown Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

Her record could be even more impressive if not racing in the era of Honeysuckle, but it is somewhat fitting that the Barnane stalwart could provide her owners with their biggest triumph on the ultimate stage.

“She’s an incredible horse and all the credit has to go to Peter, Ross and Anna Doyle who purchased her for us and Willie and his team for the way they have looked after her,” said Kieswetter.

“She’s one of those horses that doesn’t come around too often and she has given us so much pleasure over the jumps and on the Flat for a good few years.

“As grateful as we are for the great times and the journey she has taken us on, at times it has been frustrating because she has come up against Honeysuckle. It’s been an amazing journey and it would be great to continue that journey on Thursday.”

Mullins is seeking his own slice of history and he attempts to become the first man to win both the Cheltenham and Ascot versions of the Gold Cup in the same year.

Vincent O’Brien is the only man to win both races, but it was not in the same calendar year – showing just how remarkable Mullins’ achievement would be.

The Closutton handler came close to Gold Cup glory 10 years ago, when Simenon was narrowly denied by the late Queen’s Estimate in the week’s premier staying contest.

Kieswetter continued: “Willie is happy with the mare and hopefully he can create a bit of history for himself and become the first trainer to win both Gold Cups in the same year – that would be one hell of an achievement.

Simenon (centre) finishing second to Estimate in the Ascot Gold Cup in 2013
Simenon (centre) finishing second to Estimate in the Ascot Gold Cup in 2013 (Steve Parsons/PA)

“He’s a genius and he knows what his plan is. He is hungry to give the race a good crack and is sending a good team of horses for the week. It’s extremely exciting, the Gold Cup is the Gold Cup and we’re just hoping the mare gives a good account of herself and if she does, we will be happy with that.

“After chatting to Willie, he did mention a couple of options for her at the Royal meeting and some other Flat races throughout the season, but I think he must be quite chuffed with her and confident after her last performance.

“Willie isn’t going to just enter a horse for the sake of entering it, so he must be confident and that in turn gives us confidence.”

Barnane Stud broke their duck at the Royal meeting when the William Haggas-trained Candleford stormed to success in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes 12 months ago, a result that simply whetted Kieswetter’s appetite to return in search of further glory during one of the biggest weeks of the racing year.

Candleford carried the Barnane silks to Royal Ascot glory in 2022
Candleford carried the Barnane silks to Royal Ascot glory in 2022 (David Davies/PA)

Now, like their horses, the close-knit family operation is ready to make the step up to the highest level and – win, lose or draw – they are determined to enjoy the day to its full potential.

“Last year we had a nice result with Candleford in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes,” added the South African-born owner-breeder.

“Just to have a runner is great, but to have a winner is very special. It’s an incredible week of racing.

“The Gold Cup is steeped in history and tradition. The whole week of racing is amazing, but the Gold Cup is the pinnacle of the week and to have a runner the trainer is confident in is very exciting.

“We have the whole team over from Barnane and South Africa and we will be racing with a lot of friends, so it will be a fun day.

“If she wins the Gold Cup, I’m pretty sure we will open up the local pub to the whole of the town and drink them out of Guinness.”

A Gold Cup victory would make Echoes In Rain a valuable broodmare proposition for Barnane Stud with Kieswetter tentatively mooting they could decide to pull stumps on her racing career there and then in the Ascot winner’s enclosure if big-race success came her way.

There is, of course, plenty of water to cross through Swinley Bottom before a date with the breeding sheds is inked into the diary, but it appears Kieswetter’s mating plans are as aggressive as his exploits with cricket bat in hand as he suggests he would not be shy in pointing Echoes In Rain the way of Frankel amongst others.

Craig Kieswetter batting for England during his international cricket career
Craig Kieswetter batting for England during his international cricket career (David Davies/PA)

He said: “If she does happen to do something special, she will undoubtedly be going to the best Flat stallion. It would make sense being a Gold Cup winner or placed mare, so she would be deserving of the full treatment and we certainly wouldn’t hold back on her.

“Frankel is most probably on the cards. He’s a superstar and his results are outstanding. But that is something we will sit down as a team and no doubt discuss the options. Although it is important we don’t get carried away and we need to get through Thursday first before we can sit and decide anything.

“The fact we are able to even have these dreams is what the sport is all about and we are grateful for.

“We’ve got a beautiful team, both over here and in South Africa, and what we want to do is breed top quality racehorses and that is what the goal is.”

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Howzat! Kieswetter hoping to hit Cheltenham rivals for six

Former England cricketer Craig Kieswetter has a T20 World Cup winner’s medal hanging up at home – but believes victory at the Cheltenham Festival would be his greatest sporting achievement.

A swashbuckling batsman in his time, Kieswetter smashed 63 runs and was named man of the match when England defeated Australia in the final of the 2010 World Cup.

But since his enforced retirement from the cricket field due to a freak injury in 2015, he has wasted little time in crossing the boundary to another sporting arena – one which is in the blood, with both his father and grandfather well known figures in South African racing.

Kieswetter has become a central figure of his family’s Barnane Stud, which has enjoyed notable success in both the Flat and National Hunt sphere in recent years. and the multi-talented South African is adamant the joy of triumph on a racecourse eclipses anything he achieved with a bat.

Craig Kieswetter celebrates reaching his century while playing international cricket for England
Craig Kieswetter celebrates reaching his century while playing international cricket for England (Gareth Copley/PA)

“I’ve been fortunate to experience huge highs in another sport, but I think the euphoria of winning a big race with a thoroughbred racehorse – it’s pretty tough to beat that with anything in the world really,” explained Kieswetter.

“The emotion in the build-up and then the success and disappointment, you feel it the same. It’s slightly harder in the equine and thoroughbred world though, because you don’t really have control.

“You are entrusting your horses to people we believe are the best in terms of Willie Mullins over jumps and William Haggas and Richard Hannon on the Flat, and we also surround ourselves with people like the Doyles (Peter and Ross Doyle, bloodstock agents). But we put the trust and management of expectation down to the trainer and their expertise.”

That trust has seen the Barnane team head to Prestbury Park with three runners for Grade One contests. Barnane race Triumph outsider Gust Of Wind and Supreme hope Il Etait Temps in partnership with the Heffer family’s Hollywood syndicate, while Mares’ Hurdle-bound Echoes In Rain needs zero introduction and has been a long-time standard-bearer in Barnane’s red and green silks.

“It’s not very often you will find many people having more than one runner at the Festival and it certainly isn’t very often you will find many South African people having three runners at Cheltenham,” continued Kieswetter.

Il Etait Temps ridden by jockey Danny Mullins on their way to winning the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle during day two of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown
Il Etait Temps ridden by jockey Danny Mullins on their way to winning the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle during day two of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“The whole Barnane team will be over, along with our partners at Hollywood Bets and we are very much looking forward to it.

“It is very, very exciting and if all goes to plan, there could be a lot of Guinness being drunk by South Africans.”

Having moved to one of jumps racing’s heartlands as an 18-year-old when snapped up to play cricket for Somerset, Kieswetter soon found himself on the doorstep of some of the sport’s biggest stables.

A disastrous loss to Martin Pipe on the ping-pong table saw Kieswetter take enforced ownership of his first jumper, while his early retirement from the cricketing arena has seen him leap headfirst into his passion, sparking his relentless quest to make Barnane and the family’s Southern Hemisphere equivalent – Ridgemont Highlands in the Western Cape – world-leading thoroughbred operations.

He continued: “My old man and grandfather have long been involved in the racing industry in South Africa and it is well documented how I got into my first jumps horse with Martin Pipe down in Somerset.

“The bug just hit and we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success in a relatively short space of time. I think that goes down to surrounding ourselves with the right people, who are both passionate about our operation but also want success for us and themselves equally as well.

“We’ve got an incredible team at Barnane and Hollywood – they are a phenomenal family and an incredible organisation who are really, really passionate. They just love the sport and the industry and are always looking for ways to improve it by being involved

“We work closely with the Doyles and they don’t need any introduction. They are the world leaders in terms of bloodstock advice and are great family friends. It’s great when you have runners but when you have runners with great friends and good people, it makes it even better.”

The strict disciplinarian Andy Flower was head coach during Kieswetter’s time in the England ranks, but the 35-year-old has chosen a somewhat opposite approach to oversee his National Hunt string in the mild-mannered master of Closutton.

One unifying characteristic both possess, however, is an obsessive attention to detail combined with a meticulous nature which sees them get the most out of their pupils – something the former wicket-keeper admires.

“Willie he’s a bit of a magician – Willie the wizard,” said Kieswetter.

Craig Kieswetter has described his jumps trainer Willie Mullins as a magician
Craig Kieswetter has described his jumps trainer Willie Mullins as a magician (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“He’s very unassuming, he’s very quiet and humble and the amazing thing is not only does he get the best out of his horses and staff, but he allows his horses and staff to shine.

“When we go down to Closutton to watch the horses work, he knows every single member of staff by name and he gives them the impetus to have an input into the training and diet of anything in the yard. It’s a very inclusive team there and it is always very impressive to watch.

“Willie and his whole team are ultra-professional and we just trust them with whatever direction they want to take the horses in. It’s great fun to be a part of the journey with everyone involved and it’s exciting.”

Kieswetter will fly to Ireland to check on the final preparations of the Barnane Festival contenders at Closutton before moving on to Cheltenham and he is relishing the prospect of returning to Prestbury Park.

“I’ve been a couple of times and it is incredible fun,” he added.

“It’s jumps racing at it’s best and you also meet fans who are die hard, salt of the earth type of people who just love a punt and love a pint of Guinness.

“There is so much that can happen in jumps racing. On the Flat the race is done in a minute and a half, while in jumps racing you can watch the start, turn to the bar and have a few sips of your Guinness and then the race is still going!

“The way it’s going, it could be Ireland who dominate again and with us in Willie Mullins’ camp, we’re very much excited if that is how it plays out.

“Most importantly though, we hope our horses return to the paddock safely along with their jockey and if we can grab some good results, then everyone involved will be extremely happy.”

The Barnane team tasted Royal Ascot success last summer when Candleford romped to Duke of Edinburgh Stakes victory and although sounding laid-back about their chances, Kieswetter is also realistic enough to appreciate the fortunate position he and his family are in as they head to Cheltenham with live chances in some of jumps racing’s biggest races.

He said: “The Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot are the two biggest race meetings in the world. All the fields are full of top-quality horses and the fact we have a few lottery tickets is exciting and a lot of fun.

“I suppose (the difference is) it will be Guinness instead of champagne being drunk and at least we won’t be sweating in our top hat and tails!

“Last year at Royal Ascot was surreal and the manner in which Candleford won was quite remarkable. Myself and my brother were on course chatting to William Haggas and he said ‘never mind having a winner, just having a runner at Royal Ascot should make you very happy’.

“It it will be the same at Cheltenham, the fact we have a couple of runners is incredible and if we manage to sneak a victory, it will be very, very sweet and very enjoyable.”

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Echoes In Rain firing Festival dream for Craig Kieswetter

Former cricket star Craig Kieswetter believes Echoes In Rain has a great chance of causing a small upset when she lines up in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Kieswetter played 71 times for England in white-ball internationals before injury led to him retiring at the tender age of 27.

Since then he has gone about building up his family’s Barnane Stud empire alongside brother Ross and stud manager Patrick Wynn-Jones, and Echoes In Rain is one of the on-track stars of their burgeoning jumps string.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old heads to Prestbury Park on the back of a commanding victory at Naas in January and is a best-priced 7-1 for what could be a red-hot renewal of the mares’ only Grade One with possible runners including two-time Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle and Seven Barrows pair, Marie’s Rock and Epatante.

However, South African-born Kieswetter is more than happy with how the race is taking shape and is encouraged by the positive noises coming out of Closutton.

He told the PA news agency: “If the ground is right and the pace of the race is right, we are really expecting her to explode out and give a really good account in the latter stage of the race.

“There will be less pressure on her and I don’t want to say she’s flying under the radar, but there will be a lot more horses in the race who are better fancied – and if I’m honest, I’d prefer the position of being under the radar, under cover somewhat and coming through and causing a bit of a surprise.

“I’m quite happy with the position we are in and it is really encouraging to hear Ruby (Walsh) and others within the yard talk encouragingly about her. It sounds a bit cliched but we just want her to come home safe to the paddock, whatever the result may be.”

Kieswetter first became involved in National Hunt racing in his time playing for Somerset, when losing a game of table tennis with nearby Martin Pipe led to him taking on a horse called Citrus trained at Pond House.

Although Citrus did enter winner’s enclosure when landing a Plumpton novice hurdle, it is the eight-time hurdles scorer Echoes In Rain that has taken him to the upper echelons of jumps racing.

Galway Races Summer Festival 2022 – Day One – Galway Racecourse
Echoes In Rain, jockey Patrick Mullins and trainer Willie Mullins after winning the Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap during day one of the Galway Races Summer Festival 2022 (Niall Carson/PA)

He continued: “We’ve had some amazing days with her already and unfortunately she has had to come up against Honeysuckle quite a few times, but the fact we have been able to pick up plenty of graded races and have a lot of fun with her makes this race even more enjoyable.

“I remember early on in her career, Willie and Ruby and everyone in Willie’s yard found it really hard to settle her and worked extremely hard to get her to settle as she has a really nice turn of foot.

“She’s a really hardy mare and she runs to the fullest every time she steps onto the track – she never leaves anything in the tank.

“I suppose as an owner that is all you can ask – for a horse that gives her all every single time.

Craig Kieswetter in action for England during his cricket career
Craig Kieswetter in action for England during his cricket career (Rui Vieira/PA)

“Potentially, if all goes to plan, we might see her at Royal Ascot later this year and that will definitely throw a conundrum into the ballpark of what we are going to do breeding wise.

“She’s very diverse, very sturdy. She’s pretty much your old-school type of mare who has a lot of attitude about her and is very protective of her own space. Those mares tend to be the ones who produce the best progeny, so all in all we have a nice little crop there, along with our partners and friends, to look forward to in the future.”

Kieswetter’s Barnane Stud will also be represented at the Festival by Il Etait Temps and Gust Of Wind, who are both owned in partnership with the Heffer family’s Hollywood Syndicate.

The former is flying high in the betting for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle having capitalised on the misfiring Facile Vega to land Grade One glory at the Dublin Racing Festival and throw his hat into the ring for the Festival opener.

Il Etait Temps ridden by jockey Danny Mullins on their way to winning the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle during day two of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown
Il Etait Temps ridden by jockey Danny Mullins on their way to winning the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle during day two of the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“There will obviously be huge talk about Facile Vega and rightly so because he looks a terrific horse,” said Kieswetter when analysing the five-year-old’s Festival claims.

“But the manner in which Il Etait Temps ran and won at Leopardstown – when he kept up with the hot pace and was able to accelerate – if the speed of the race is run right for him and the ground is right for him, I don’t see any reason why he can’t run another great race and walk away respectfully.

“There is no doubt he is a lovely horse and as Willie has said, if he jumps well he will be right there and thereabouts.

“It is exciting to go to Cheltenham off the back of a Grade One win and it gives us some confidence, but we’re definitely not taking things for granted.”

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