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  • Il Etait Temps Cruises To Manifesto Novices’ Chase Triumph At Aintree

Il Etait Temps cruises to Manifesto Novices’ Chase triumph at Aintree

Il Etait Temps was too strong for his rivals as he landed the first Grade 1 of Aintree's Grand National meeting in the Close Brothers Manifesto Novices’ Chase.

Willie Mullins’ grey was ridden by Paul Townend and travelled patiently at the rear of the field of five.

He was always in touch, however, and was able to pick off each of his rivals to take up the lead ahead of the last fence and went on to prevail comfortably at 3/1.

The race saw another clash between the Paul Nicholls-trained Ginny’s Destiny and Dan Skelton’s Grey Dawning, with the latter having come out on top at Cheltenham.

He was favourite to do so again but Harry Skelton was just niggling to keep in contention at the top of the straight.

Harry Cobden looked to have saved a bit on Ginny’s Destiny but the Mullins runner, as so often, looked in a different league. He hit the front and, despite making a bit of a mess of the last fence, had plenty left in the locker.

Ginny’s Destiny just held off Grey Dawning for second.

Mullins said: “That was nice and I loved the manner he did it in. 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.

“When he jumped off at the start, I think for the first circuit I was very worried, 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 today over two and a half was fantastic.

“At this end of the season, horses are tired and he just took a bit of time to warm up, but I’m happy that he’s 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.”

Skelton currently leads the race for the British trainers’ championship, with Nicholls in hot pursuit and Mullins within striking distance in third.

Aintree could prove crucial to the outcome of that battle – with Mullins admitting Il Etait Temps’ victory was something of a surprise boost.

He added: “I’d imagine every little helps, but they’ll be hoping they can just keep ahead and then that we don’t win the National probably. A lot of our thing depends on how we do in the National and I suppose it’s the same with them.

“That was one I didn’t expect there, so that was nice – hopefully the rest of them can run like that.

“If we don’t win the National, it’s going to be very, very tough. We’re here having the sport and we’ll see what happens.”

Nicholls felt both Ginny’s Destiny and Grey Dawning were perhaps feeling the effects of their Cheltenham exertions.

He said: “He ran really well, I’ve said all along there’s nothing between Ginny’s Destiny and Grey Dawning and they both ran their races. Say no more!

“Harry said there’s a really big race in him and considering he had a very hard race at Cheltenham, he’s bounced back really well. He looked good, jumped well but as Harry Skelton said, tired legs probably beat the pair of them as they’ve run really good races.

“I don’t know what route we’ll go down next year. He will get three miles but while Dan’s horse looks a Gold Cup type trip-wise, I’m not sure ours is because he has plenty of boot.

“What he has done is gone from lowly handicaps to Grade Ones and if we’d have jumped the second last at Cheltenham, it would have been interesting. There’s nothing between those two, they are good, solid, proper horses.”

Skelton added: “Harry lost an iron but it is irrelevant to the outcome.

“Obviously Cheltenham has taken the gloss off him, though it makes no difference to his season as he was ready to run and ran creditably.

“Next season he will start over two and a half miles then graduate to three.”


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