Iron Horse’ Takes Honours In Aintree Gr1 Opener

Close Brothers Manifesto Gr1 Novice Chase

The Grand National Festival got underway at Aintree on Thursday in memorable fashion for South African interests when the Hollywood Syndicate and Kieswetter family’s Barnane Stud owned grey Il Etait Temps stepped up in trip under Paul Townend and strolled in to win the Close Brothers Manifesto Gr1 Novices’ Chase by a widening 9 lengths.

Now this is power – Il Etait Temps (Pic – Supplied)

Labelled a ‘horse made of iron’ by his trainer, Il Etait Temps has been a model of consistency and was registering his second Gr1 success (and third overall)  from 3 starts this year on ground that added to the demands on stamina.

Loping along behind the five strong field for much of the journey, Il Etait Temps started eating up the ground ahead of the final fence and left them for dead as he drew away impressively to beat Ginny’s Destiny and the favourite Grey Dawning, who were frankly in a different race.

While the blinkers are likely to be removed for his next start, Willie Mullins, who enjoyed a great start to the exciting three days, and is within striking distance of British Championship honours, said that he ‘loved the manner of Il Etait Temps’ win.’

“I was really taken with how he walked around the parade ring beforehand. I haven’t seen him as loose for a while, and I just thought if he could run like he walked, he was going to run a big race,” he added.

But even the mild mannered veteran conditioner conceded that he was worried about Il Etait Temps’ almost lackadaisical saunter behind the field for the first circuit of the 4000m event.

“He just seemed very behind himself – I don’t think he’s going to need his hood in future. But he warmed to his task and jumped well later in the race, and just kept galloping. I think going out in trip is more important than track. He did win over two miles, but his performance here over two and a half was fantastic.”

He observed that horses do get tired at this end of the season and Il Etait Temps had taken a bit of time to warm up, but was happy that his charge was going to improve as he goes further out in trip and gets older.

“He’s a fine horse, he’s not your big, 16.3 (hands) chaser, but he turns up for every fight and is made of iron. He turns up and there’s never an issue with him,” said Mullins.

Enjoy the replay:

Barnane Stud’s Craig Kieswetter was understandably thrilled with the outcome!

“Once again the little grey puts together a huge performance with grit, determination, and a whole lot of heart. We were slightly concerned with how he was travelling during the first circuit but he clearly found some rhythm and definitely enjoyed the step up in trip. It’s bizarre to thing that Il Etait Temps has now won three Grade 1 races (and placed in more) – he is giving the whole team one heck of a ride! As things stand he has an entry in the Punchestown Festival at the beginning of May but we will have a chat with Willie to see if he runs. As always, we are delighted to be involved with the Heffer Family and a big well done to Peter, Anna, and Ross Doyle,” said Craig Kieswetter

The partnership between the Kieswetter and Heffer families has gone front strength to strength in South Africa and the UK, and they also have Karia Des Blaises entered in the Champion 4yo Hurdle on the Ballymore Festival Family Day, which brings the curtain down on the Punchestown Festival on 4 May.

The Hollywood Syndicate’s Devin Heffer congratulated their partners Barnane Stud and trainer Willie Mullins’ team, and labelled it ‘an incredible day’.

“This little grey with the big heart is such a character and so special to all of us. He is improving all the time, and with three Gr1 victories under his belt, it’s really exciting to think that his very best days are likely still ahead of him!’ added Devin Heffer.

A gelded son of Jukebox Jury, Il Etait Temps is out of Une Des Source and was bred in France by Emmanuel Clayeux.

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