Everything looked set for Impaire Et Passe to quicken up and lay down a Champion Hurdle marker turning for home in the Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle but last year’s winner Teahupoo had other ideas, and his swooping late challenge won the day for Jack Kennedy, Gordon Elliott and owners Robcour at Fairyhouse.
TEAHUPOO strikes AGAIN ?— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 3, 2023
Reigning Hatton's Grace Hurdle champ Teahupoo outbattles rising star Impaire Et Passe in a cracking finish to the feature Grade 1 contest @Fairyhouse@gelliott_racing's horses are just flying!@jackkennedy15 | @BarOneRacing | @BrianAcheson pic.twitter.com/NNjtprho9a
In winning he became the sixth multiple winner of this race in its short history, and having ran out an unlucky third in the Stayers Hurdle last season, he will now go straight for that race with Elliott and Brian Acheson believing he is a horse best kept fresh.
That is another day, as there was so much to like about this success, achieved in front of a raucous 7,000 crowd at Fairyhouse.
The slowly run nature of this race - Zanahiyr led the five-runner field in a dawdle for much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest - looked to set things up for Impaire Et Passe to use the speed his connections banked on him having in their decision to stay over hurdles this season and Paul Townend looked confident turning for home. Teahupoo raced up alongside him and while Kennedy was more active at this stage, it was clear his mount was really responding and after the last, they had the favourite in real trouble, before staying on strongly for a length victory.
“Obviously Willie’s horse was going to be hard to beat over two and a half (miles), we know our lad likes three (miles),” said Elliott, who trained Apple’s Jade to a hat-trick of wins in this race. “Jack have him a good ride. He was very clever on him, he said he was going to have one go in between the last two.
“The horse has gone a lot stronger. We’re delighted - fair play to Brian, Carmel, Rob and Courtney and the whole team (Robcour), they’re looking after me with nice horses.”
This was a 10th Grade 1 win for Brian Acheson’s Robcour operation, for which the future looks bright when you consider he has a real live Gold Cup hope in Gerri Colombe this season also.
On the future plans of Teahupoo, who is now a 4/1 clear favourite for the Stayer’s Hurdle, Acheson said: “We’re going to go straight to Cheltenham now (for the Stayer’s Hurdle). He’s a better horse fresh. He’s very similar to Bob Olinger - Henry said it, the key to this horse is Robbie Power. Robbie is part of the team.
“He takes a lot of the horses in during the summer, he does a little dressage with them, and himself and Gordon and himself and Henry work well. Everything is for the welfare of the horse, to get the horse in physically good condition.
“Jack (Kennedy) - what can you say? Ireland is very lucky. You’ve Rachael, you've Paul, you’ve Jack, you’ve Walshy, you’ve Darragh. Jack is at the top of that tree at the moment. Long may he stay there but that tree is a very competitive tree.”
For Elliott, after a record breaking November haul of 41 winners, he has started off December in just as strong form. Reflecting on that success, he said: “We were here three or four years ago and we had everything. I lost it all, but I worked hard and the team I have behind me, all the lads in the yard to all the lads buying horses for me, we’ve got it back
“There was two or three weeks where I was very lonely but a lot of people stuck by me.”