THERE were a few eyebrows raised early last season when Colm Murphy suggested Impervious could be up there with the best mares he has trained but she went some way to proving him right with a career best performance win in the Grade 3 Madigan Group Novice Chase.

This looked a smart contest beforehand with the likes of Ha D’Or, Journey With Me and Minella Crooner lining up and Impervious had to shoulder a Grade 2 penalty, meaning she had to concede 1lb to the whole field. That said, her Cork success over Dinoblue was impressive and prompted J.P. McManus to move in to buy her and he was rewarded immediately.

The seven-year-old mare was held up in behind that trio through the early stages, before her rider Brian Hayes allowed her to get closer down the back straight.

Journey With Me, who had taken over the running from the sketchy-jumping Ha D’or at halfway, had built up a decent advantage by the time he’d reached the straight but once asked to challenge, Impervious was a willing partner. She moved up to Journey With Me at the last and thought it was a tight battle from here, she always looked like winning.

“She has probably answered a lot of questions there,” Murphy reflected. “It was a tall order to be giving weight away to them boys. It was probably a little worry that she was on heavy ground as well. We’re delighted with her.

“She wears her heart on her sleeve, she gives everything and she’d die for you. You never know where these mares can get to once they start improving. Without speaking to J.P. and Frank, I’d imagine the Mares Chase is the plan but we will see what they think.”

Impervious ranged between 7/4 and 9/4 with bookmakers for that Cheltenham Festival target. She finished sixth in the Mares Novices Hurdle at the Festival last season but clearly has improved for fences and will set a strong form standard if taking on her own sex again.

The runner-up Journey With Me ran a creditable race, stepping forward from his beginners chase win at Naas. His price was cut with bookmakers for the Turners at Cheltenham, with 16/1 generally available.

It was 22 lengths back to Minella Crooner, who struggled to stay with the leading group as they came out of the back straight and may be seen to better effect over further. Ha D'or was the same distance away in fourth and will have to jump more fluently to hold his own at this level.