Tag Archive for: Ill Etait Temps

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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