IT was far from all doom and gloom for Irish breeding at Leopardstown at the weekend. The final Grade 1 of the weekend was the Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle.

Generally billed in advance as a test for Facile Vega, who sadly returned home lame, many believed that the Willie Mullins-trained gelding had most to fear from the smart flat performer High Definition. Well, they were wrong, and instead Il Etait Temps (which translates as About Time), gained his first blacktype success, one better than the runner-up spot he filled behind Facile Vega in the Grade 1 at Christmas.

Il Etait Temps has probably gone under the radar somewhat, and he is well able for Grade 1 company. Bred by French trainer Emmanuel Clayeaux and Ecurie Couderc, he comes from a branch of one of France’s best female lines when it comes to producing top-class runners. His grandam is a half-sister to the dams of two runners who are well-known in these parts, Grade 1 Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D’Allen (Voix Du Nord) and Grade 3 hurdle winner Icare Allen (Cokoriko).


Emmanuel Clayeaux started the career of Il Etait Temps, and the gelding was runner-up on his second start for the trainer. Transferred to Willie Mullins after his purchase, privately, Il Etait Temps was thrown in at the deep end for his first start out of Closutton, in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.

One of four runners for Mullins that day, Il Etait Temps was third to Vauban and Fil Dor, while the Mullins-trained Icare Allen was fifth. There was no disgrace in running fifth and fourth in a pair of Grade 1 races at Cheltenham and Punchestown, though well-beaten, and a look at the races show they were packed with quality.

Finally, at Thurles in November, Il Etait Temps landed a maiden success, ran second to Facile Vega, and now he has won for a second time. Part-owned by Barnane Stud, Il Etait Temps could be a horse to watch for in the future. Importantly from an Irish perspective, the five-year-old is a son of Burgage Stud’s Jukebox Jury (Montjeu).

Jukebox Jury

Sire of Princess Zoe, a Group 1 winner on the flat, Jukebox Jury is now sire of three Grade 1 winners over hurdles, and the trio notably includes the Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas. This latest win will be music to the ears of the many breeders who have placed their faith in the Group 1 Preis von Europe and The Irish Field St Leger winner.

One of a pair of winners from his dam, Il Est Temps is the best to date out of Une Des Sources (Dom Alco), a three-time winner at the age of four over jumps. She is among six winners from Nouvelle Recrue (Ragmar), and they include listed chase winner Concerto D’Allen (Coastal Path), and Arbre De Vie (Antarctique), a multiple winner for Willie Mullins who was beaten less than a length by Woodland Opera in a Grade A chase at the Punchestown Festival, and finished fourth to Martello Tower in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham.

As mentioned earlier, Espoir D’Allen and Icare Allen appear in the third remove of the family, while appearing under the fourth dam are the likes of Envoi Allen (Muhtathir), Eldorado Allen (Khalkevi) and Auvergnat (Della Francesca).