IT was billed as a match between the two Irish favourites and that’s exactly how the Grade 2 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase played out, as Impervious battled back to defeat Allegorie De Vassy by two lengths. The result saw trainer Colm Murphy back in the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure for the first time since 2016, while it was a first Festival success for jockey Brian Hayes.

Acquired earlier this season by owner J.P. McManus, Impervious (15/8) travelled well throughout but was shadowed everywhere by Allegorie De Vassy (13/8 favourite) and the pair jumped two out alongside each other in front.

They were still inseparable at the last but on landing it appeared that Allegorie De Vassy, the bigger of the pair, was getting on top under Paul Townend. She went half a length up on the run-in but Impervious put her head down and battled back to lead with 100 yards to go, pulling clear for a three-length victory.

Brian Hayes told Racing TV: “She got lit up on me after two fences and I just about kept a lid on her. She is very quick but she stays as well, and Colm has done the world of schooling with her. After the last she put her head down, ears back, and she just wants it.”

Paying tribute to Murphy, Hayes said: “Colm is the man to get one ready for Cheltenham. I saw him doing a piece of work on her last week and he couldn’t pull her up. I was smiling when I saw that, I knew she was flying.”

Murphy said: “It’s nice she’s gone and done it. Shes a tough lady, she keeps answering every question we ask her. She has always been gutsy, she tries very hard for you.”