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Mullins hoping SkyBet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle contender proves to be in top division at Punchestown

Impaire Et Passe will be the latest horse bursting with potential to represent champion trainer Willie Mullins in the Grade 2 SkyBet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

Almost on a yearly basis Mullins nominates a novice from his top rank for Sunday’s feature race at the County Kildare venue and has won it previously with Mikael D’Haguenet, Vautour, Douvan, Min and last year with Dysart Dynamo. Impaire Et Passe’s Irish debut was extremely impressive when he recorded an 18-length success in a maiden hurdle at Naas last month and Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, Willie, gave a positive update ahead of the weekend. “I think Impaire Et Passe is the obvious candidate for the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle,” Mullins said of the Simon Munir & Isaac Souede-owned five-year-old.

“He is a big scopey horse who won well at Naas the last day. He had been working well at home going to Naas but certainly nothing like what he showed that day and that surpassed our expectations.” The Mullins/Munir/Souede axis have also included Tax For Max in Sunday’s Grade 2 contest but Impaire Et Passe is the stable preference following yesterday’s entry stage. “Some horses thrive after winning a race and you can see them grow in confidence and Impaire Et Passe has come out of the race really well and I’d like to think he will progress from it. We’d like to think that he will be at the top end of his division,” Mullins added.

Opposition to Impaire Et Passe could come from course and distance winner The Model Kingdom.
The Noel Meade-trained filly was a Grade 3 winner at the Punchestown Festival last season when landing the Weatherbys GSB EBF Mares Bumper and returned to the track in November to score over hurdles.
The Model Kingdom’s fondness of Punchestown may give Meade a strong chance of winning the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle for the first time since Orbit O’Gold sprang a shock at odds of 50/1 in 2007.

Meade’s fellow County Meath native, Gordon Elliott, has enjoyed more recent success with Felix Desjy and Andy Dufresne giving him back-to-back victories in 2019 and 2020. Elliott’s potential representatives this year are Tramore winner Cardamon Hill, Imagine, who also won a bumper at Punchestown last year and the somewhat aptly named Shecouldbeanything who has won her three outings so far.
The potential line-up for the SkyBet Novice Hurdle is completed by the Tom Mullins-duo of C’est Rien and Hey Johnny.

The Grade 3 Madigan Group Novice Chase is another race on the card with an elite roll of honour. Carefully Selected, Envoi Allen and Bob Olinger could well be joined by another potential star with the likes of Mouse Morris’ Gentlemansgame and the Elliott-trained Minella Crooner among the nine going forward. Grade 2 winner Impervious is a big runner for trainer Colm Murphy with the six-year-old daughter of Shantou now carrying the colours of JP McManus after winning at Cork for Paul McKeon last month.
Willie Mullins is likely to be represented by Ha D’or who opened his account at the first time of asking with an impressive display at Fairyhouse.

“Ha D’or had graded form last year and took to chasing pretty well at Fairyhouse,” Patrick Mullins added. “He has been working well at home but this looks a very hot race. “Glengouly looks a better chaser than he was a hurdler but he will still need to make a step forward to get to the level of Ha D’or and some of the other potential runners in the race.”
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Trainer Joseph O’Brien will be hoping to add his name to the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle roll of honour for the first time with two fascinating runners in the Grade 2 contest at Punchestown this Sunday. 

Meticulous, who was second to the unbeaten Envoi Allen in a Grade 2 bumper last season, will be hoping to become the first horse to win the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle as a maiden. The six-year-old son of Fame And Glory carries the famous colours of Michael Tabor and will be joined in the race by his very progressive stable companion Anything Will Do

Anything Will Do was a Punchestown course and distance winner on his two most recent starts and will bid to make it four consecutive victories when tackling a field of five runners on Sunday. 

“Both Anything Will Do and Meticulous are in good shape,” O’Brien reported on Friday morning. “Anything Will Do is a very consistent horse with solid form and if he runs his race again hopefully he’ll be able to give Andy Dufresne a run for his money.”

“It would look a tough ask for Meticulous having his first run over hurdles but it comes to a point in the season when you want to get him out. His bumper form has worked out very well and there is no doubt that he is a decent horse so we look forward to seeing what he can do over obstacles. We are looking forward to getting him started.” 

Gordon Elliott, who won the race last year with the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Felix Desjy, relies on the JP McManus-owned Andy Dufresne for this renewal. 

Andy Dufresne will drop back to two miles on Sunday having finished second to the classy Latest Exhibition at Navan last time out and earlier this week Elliott reported his runner to be in fine fettle ahead of this assignment. 

“Andy Dufresne got beaten by a very good horse of Paul Nolan’s last time (Latest Exhibition) and he’s been in good shape since then. The way he jumps and travels two miles should be no problem for him,” Elliott said. 

Henry de Bromhead is represented by the impressive Navan maiden hurdle winner Captain Guinness who made a notable impression when winning first time out and is once again the mount of Rachael Blackmore this weekend. 

Shanroe is another who will look to win the race as a maiden over hurdles and give trainer Karl Thornton the biggest success of his career, while the field is completed by the John Ryan-trained The Little Yank

The Grade 3 Killiney Novice Chase looks set to be a memorable renewal with the Cheltenham Festival winner City Island taking on the Willie Mullins-trained Carefully Selected. 

City Island recorded a first Cheltenham Festival victory for trainer Martin Brassil and owners Sean and Bernardine Mulryan last season when taking the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and will be hoping to make his mark on Sunday ahead of the upcoming spring festivals. 

The Matthew Smith-trained Lord Schnitzel finished less than four lengths adrift of Carefully Selected in beginners chase earlier this season and since competed at Grade 1 level at Leopardstown when third behind Battleoverdoyen and Champagne Classic. 

Elliott runs Dallas Des Pictons in the Killiney Novice Chase and the field is completed by Halsafari and Speak Easy. 

The first of seven races at Punchestown on Sunday is due off at 12.30pm. 


Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle
Previous Winners


Year    Horse                     Jockey                      Trainer                  Age        Price

2019  Felix Desjy              S W Flanagan           Gordon Elliott                 6              11/4
2018  Getabird                 Mr. P W Mullins         W P Mullins                  6               1/1Fav
2017  Any Second Now  M P Walsh                 T M Walsh                       5                6/1
2016  Min                          R Walsh                      W P Mullins                   5                1/7Fav
2015  Douvan                   R Walsh                      W P Mullins                   5                1/3Fav
2014  Vautour                  P Townend                 W P Mullins                   5                1/4Fav 
2013  Mozoltov                R Walsh                      W P Mullins                   7                 9/4
2012  Trifolium                D N Russell                 C Byrnes                       5                 7/4Fav
2011  Gagewell Flyer      P Townend                 W P Mullins                  7                 13/8Fav
2010  Luska Lad             A J McNamara           John J Hanlon             6                  7/2