The Gr1 Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday turned into something of a champagne celebration for local players when two horses with South African ties fought out the finish.
The Willie Mullins-trained grey Il Etait Temps, who runs in the Hollywood Syndicate silks and is owned in partnership with the Kieswetter family’s Barnane Stud, gained the upper hand in terrific fashion to register his second Gr1 success.
It has been a stellar year for the Hollywood Syndicate, who only last month celebrated their 500th winner milestone after 22 years in horseracing, having upped the ante over the past three years.
Their association with the internationally active Kieswetter family, who own Ridgemont in Robertson and the Barnane Stud in County Tipperary, Ireland, has gone from strength to strength and delivered yet another superb Grade 1 success that suggests tickets are hurriedly being booked for the Cheltenham Festival next month!
In a thrilling finish Danny Mullins made it three winners from three rides (a 535-1 treble!) on the day as Il Etait Temps found reserves of courage and stamina to grind his way past the game pacemaker Found A Fifty, with the popular favourite Marine Nationale suffering his first defeat.
The runner-up Found A Fifty is a son of late Summerhill and Heversham Park Danehill stallion, Solskjaer, who was reinvented as a jumps sire when Gauteng breeder Nigel Riley shrewdly saw an opportunity after he failed to make the grade commercially on the flat in South Africa.
It was a second Grade 1 success for the 6yo Il Etait Temps, who beat his better-fancied stablemate Facile Vega at the meeting last year.
Bred in France by Emmanuel Clayeux, the winner is a son of Jukebox Jury (Ire) out of the Dom Alco (Fre) dam Une Des Sources (Fre).
He was found by the astute Ross Doyle after two relatively ordinary starts on the flat in France.
Doyle was given the heads up by Irish Bloodstock man Harold Kirk, who along with France-based Pierre Boulard, are the chief scouts for trainer Willie Mullins. The rest is history, as they say!
After Saturday’s thriller, trainer Willie Mullins, who has been in sizzling form, told the Racing Post: “Danny is just on fire today. This horse is improving, his jumping is improving and he’s settling as well. He didn’t have much respect for hurdles and has more respect for fences which is bringing about improvement.
“It just shows you that chasers come in all shapes and sizes as he’s not the biggest horse in the world. He’s obviously very effective over this trip and we look forward to the Arkle at Cheltenham.”
According to the Racing Post, bookmakers reacted by cutting Il Etait Temps to 4-1 (from 12) for the Arkle in March with Marine National still heading the betting at 3-1, out from 4-7, following his disappointing effort.