Top Irish trainer Willie Mullins is eyeing more Grade 1 success this weekend as Impaire Et Passe makes his seasonal reappearance at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival.
The horse won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March and is now prominent in the betting for next year’s Champion Hurdle.
Impaire Et Passe is set to face a talented field when he lines-up in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday afternoon.
Online bookmakers have taken no chances with the five-year-old, installing him as the 4/6 favourite to maintain his unbeaten National Hunt record.
The sportsbooks listed at horse-racing.ie rate Teahupoo as the biggest threat to Impaire Et Passe and it would be no surprise to see him run a big race this weekend.
He defeated Klassical Dream and Honeysuckle after a seven-month break in this race last year, before recording an impressive success in the Galmoy Hurdle.
Gordon Elliott’s charge was subsequently a gallant third in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and then finished fourth in the equivalent race at the Punchestown Festival.
Teahupoo will relish the testing conditions at Fairyhouse and is expected to give Impaire Et Passe plenty to think about this weekend.
Stablemate Irish Point could also run well having proved his wellbeing with a gritty victory in a Grade 3 hurdle at Down Royal earlier this month.
However, it is impossible to look past Impaire Et Passe’s claims in the Hatton’s Grace and he is strongly fancied to start his season on a winning note.
An Tobar Fancied for the Royal Bond
Elsewhere on the card, the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle will be a useful form pointer for other major races later in the season.
The pick of the bunch could be point-to-point winner An Tobar, who claimed victory after a long absence in a maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier this month.
He was a heavily-supported 8/13 favourite on that occasion and had little difficulty pulling clear of his rivals under jockey Rachael Blackmore.
The third Grade 1 race on the Sunday card is the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase, which features some of the most promising first-season chasers in Ireland.
One of the most likely winners is multiple Grade 1-winning hurdler Sharjah, who recorded his second victory over bigger obstacles at Tipperary in October.
A six-time winner at the highest level over hurdles, the 10-year-old has taken to fences like a duck to water and could be extremely tough to beat this weekend.
Jockey Paul Townend was extremely bullish about Sharjah after the race, suggesting he could be a possible contender for the Turners’ Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in March.
However, the combination could have their work cut out at Fairyhouse, with Letsbeclearaboutit the current favourite with the bookmakers to win the race.
The horse impressed on his chasing debut at Gowran Park earlier this season before dominating his rivals in a Grade 3 event at Cork.
Trainer Gavin Cromwell thinks the horse is destined to be one of this season’s top novice chasers and a victory this weekend would cement that belief.
Found A Fifty, I Am Maximus and American Mike are other noteworthy entries in a race which should prove to be extremely informative form-wise as the season progresses.