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Team Mullins start Festival Wednesday perfectly as Impaire Et Passe leads home stable 1-2-3 in Ballymore Novices' Hurdle

Press Release 15th March 2023 Cheltenham


Wednesday 15th March

Festival Wednesday began as Champion Day ended for The Festival’s most successful trainer Willie Mullins with Impaire Et Passe (5-2) leading home a 1-2-3 for the master of Closutton in the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Willie Mullins said: “I was very impressed with that. I was looking at him  coming to the last going, ‘No, Danny [Mullins, on Champ Kiely], don’t pull in’, but Danny’s horse was hanging right the whole way down the back and Paul just said to himself that he could get through, and he did, but what happened when he got through was what blew me away. The change of pace down to the last and up the hill - wow. I think that was the horse’s fourth run in his life, so there’s huge improvement there. I’m looking at him as a chaser; you have to ask yourself now, do you stay hurdling? What would you do?

“You have to look at everything, including the Champion Hurdle. Yesterday I was telling Michael Buckley, we’ll have to go shopping again to find one to beat you [Constitution Hill], but maybe we haven’t yet! He’s in the same sort of mould with his speed, jumping and the way he came up the hill, so maybe we have one.

“Gaelic Warrior - he took out his earplugs on the way to the start and he didn’t settle as well as we’d want him to, but Patrick said he could go up to three miles - he’ll be a big, strong chaser down the line. And Champ Kiely surprised me by staying on so well. Danny said he hung terribly down the back - I don’t know why he did that, Danny doesn’t know either, we’ll see if there’s some problem - but he’s another one who will make a nice chaser.”

Winning jockey Paul Townend told ITV Racing: “He’s a dream ride. I was hoping coming here that he would be that ride. He’s shown me that in the couple of races he’s ran. It worked out brilliantly.

“From the first day at home, he showed us a lot on the track and not so much at home. But he’s turned a corner at home too and has been doing nice work. I was definitely delighted with him when I felt him taking off underneath me.”

Isaac Souede, joint-owner of the winner, said: “That was an amazing race. We had high expectations and he met them and superseded them. He was very impressive. Other than falling, I thought we had it.

“It did exceed our expectations as after two races you don’t know how good they truly are. We knew the competition coming here was going to be strong, and it was, especially from the other Mullins horses. I would have been happy today if he run well and was first, second, third or fourth but he exceeded our expectations especially with the ease of it.

“Once he decided to go it was race over. We felt this race was about discovering how good he is so we weren’t feeling pressure. The expectations weren’t the same for us as El Fabiolo. El Fabiolo losing would have been disappointing and there would have been no hiding it. In this case we were going to learn. We know how hard it is to do this so we are not complaining.”

The other joint-owner of the winner, Simon Munir, said: “I’m in shock, really.

“He’s been working very, very well and he won his races in Ireland well but he was going up in distance, the ground was another question mark, so to win by six and a half lengths on his fourth run is breath-taking. Very exciting.

“The vibes have been strong about this horse, but it was quite a deep race - there was Champ Kiely, Gaelic Warrior, lots of horses with great form lines. It was competitive. Willie was right to go for the Ballymore and not the Supreme.

“He’s really a blank canvas; that was the fourth run of his life. He was extended today but he won by six and a half lengths, came over the last in the lead and so really the sky is the limit at the moment. The dream is very much alive.”

Barry Connell, owner-trainer of the fourth Good Land, said: “That was a good run in a really competitive race where the first four horses came well clear

"Michael (O'Sullivan,jockey) said the horse felt a bit flat out there and spent a bit too long in the air at some of his hurdles so we will have his blood and everything else checked out.

"He is a chaser in the making so that will probably be it for this season and he will be turned out in the paddocks before going chasing next Autumn."

Jockey Michael O'Sullivan said of today’s ground conditions:" It's a lot more testing than yesterday and very tough out there as it's quite tacky."

1.30pm Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m5f

  1. Impaire Et Passe 5-2
  2. Gaelic Warrior 9-2
  3. Champ Kiely 13-2


10 ran

Time: 5m 10.74s

25th winner at The Festival for jockey Paul Townend

91st winner at The Festival for trainer Willie Mullins

6th winner at The Festival for owner Simon Munir/Isaac Souede


Ireland 6

Great Britain 2


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