Il Etait Temps and Danny Mullins win the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle © Photo Healy Racing
Il Etait Temps stepped up on a fine run over Christmas when staying on best to cause a shock in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
In a race full of drama, Facile Vega and High Definition went head to head up front in the early stages but the latter paid for some untidy jumps and exited the race four from home. At that point, it appeared as though Facile Vega had matters in hand but Paul Townend began to send out distress signals rounding the home turn, as Danny Mullins loomed large on the eventual winner.
Mullins pushed Il Etait Temps into the lead on the run to the final flight and the pair soon asserted to go right away from the field. Facile Vega had no more to offer from the back of the last, eventually fading right out of contention.
"He is a decent horse in a truly run affair", said Danny Mullins. "The last day, I had wanted to line up handy but I missed the first and it became a tactical race."
"We went a strong gallop and I couldn't go with them. I was always happy where I was throughout the race. He made lengths at every hurdle and if anything, I got there a bit too early."
Willie Mullins said:- “They went a mad pace in front and it cost the favourite, I think.
“Joseph's horse wasn't able to jump at that pace and he paid the penalty.
“I was worried when I saw the pace going past the winning post first time, I said they can't keep this up.
“Then they jumped the two hurdles down the side and going around by the reservoir I turned to David Casey and said 'these two are going to break each others' heart'.
“High Definition lost his rider and I thought Paul could get a breather into our fella but he didn't get a breather.
“That was what I was worried about here the last day, that he took off going to that hurdle and used himself up.
“We'll probably just have to ride him like a racehorse rather than a machine the next time because that's what Paul did today, he rode him like a machine rather than a racehorse.
“We'll change tactics on him the next day and hopefully he'll be back to what he is.
“Not taking away from the winner, he's a very good horse. He's just got to get his jumping right, he made a mistake at the first again today. He's a Grade 1 horse.
“I've always thought a lot of him but he just has to get his jumping right. He got a very cute ride from Danny as well.
“He knew what was going to happen and he just popped him in behind and said 'I'll let the two in front have their battle and see if we can pick up the pieces afterwards' and he surely did.
“They just went too fast in front, the pace was wrong, and Danny had his fractions right.”
On Facile Vega:- “We'll go to Cheltenham. High Definition's jumping was always suspect and I think Paul didn't want him in front of him.
“You saw what happened with Lossiemouth yesterday and Paul just had that in the back of his mind going out today.
“All our horses are well entered up and Il Etait Temps will be in the Ballymore as well.”
Additional reporting by Gary Carson
Paddy Powers go 7/2 Il Etait Temps for the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Marine Nationale is the new 2/1f from 9/2, with Facile Vega out to 7/2(from 4/6). All prices NRNB.