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Il Etait Temps winning the Gr 1 Goffs Irish Arkle Novice Chase (via Hollywood Meta) 


David Mollett

An army of 60 Willie Mullins horses will board the ferry for the annual trip to Cheltenham (March 12-15) and they will include the progressive novice chaser, Il Etait Temps, who will carry the hopes of the Hollywood Syndicate.

Owen Heffer and son, Devin, have had March 12 pencilled in their diaries for a while now and it’s the day their progressive novice chaser, Il Etait Temps, runs in the Arkle Trophy at the Gloucestershire track.

“We were there last year and it was an incredible experience. Being in the parade ring was really special,” enthused Devin this week.
“He’s been a great horse in picking up the pieces when the favourite falters, but we are aware that everyone lines up their charges for Cheltenham.”

“We will be happy for conditions similar to Leopardstown – that will suit and he can show his fighting qualities again.”

Any nerves? “Obviously I’ll be a bit nervous,” concluded the young man who is the Brand & Communications manager of the thriving Hollywood operation.

The other half of the Il Etait Temps ownership is the Kieswetter Bros well known as the owners of Ridgemont Stud in the Cape.

Craig Kieswetter was a top cricketer who played 71 times for England and the 36 year-old has no doubt that the horse is in the safest of hands.

Interviewed by the Sporting Life website in the UK, Craig stressed that Willie Mullins is unquestionably a master of his trade.

He said: “Willie is going to go down as one of the all time greats, but there is still plenty of life in the old dog yet. He’s probably along the lines of a Messi or Ronaldo or Schumacher – he’s a champion.”

“I have read articles questioning if it’s good for the industry that Willie is dominating, but at the end of the day he provides results and this is a results-based sport.”

Pat Mullins is Il Etait Temps (French for “It’s About Time”) regular pilot and he’s bullish about a big performance from his mount.

“I got a great feel out of him at Limerick behind Gaelic Warrior. I think I was going into the Dublin Racing Festival hoping the better ground might bring out some more of him too.”

“He’s quite a small horse so the heavy ground at Limerick made the fences very big but he still jumped very well on the day.”

Nevertheless, Michael O’Sullivan, the rider of the antepost favourite, Marine Nationale, believes he’ll be in the winners box.

“I think the Arkle will suit him. They’ll go a strong gallop, he’ll travel and I wouldn’t swop him for anything.”

The highlight of the meeting is Friday’s Gold Cup with tickets for Day Four of the festival sold out three weeks ago.

Willie Mullins has won three of the last five Gold Cups with Al Boum Photo (2019 and 2020) and Galop des Champs last year.

Galop des Champs is back to defend his title and Mullins is confident of another win. “He’s come out of his race in Leopardstown very well and I’m very happy. It’s going to be a tip-top Gold Cup, I think. We’re in great form.”

His main rival – and the big British hope – is Shishkin who bids to give 73 year-old trainer, Nick Henderson, his third Gold Cup triumph.

Shishkin has got a bit of a “naughty boy” reputation after refusing to start at Ascot and then falling in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. But he was back on track with a decisive win in the Denman Chase.

“Everyone knows that Cheltenham is the end of a year’s work really, if you are lucky enough to have those good horses.”

And is their a plan for Shishkin? “You’ve got to have a tactical plan and going into the race we invariarably will have one, but those often go out of the window after a furlong and you have to do something different.”

“We won’t be running Shishkin any different because of Galop des Champs – he’s going to do his thing and we’re going to do ours. I’m sure Willie will have his plan and we’ll have our plan. The jockeys will probably have a completely different plan and not listen to either of us!

Finally, Henderson slipped in a word about Doddiethegreat, a 20-1 chance for the Coral Cup. “He’d be my secret weapon.”

Doddiethegreat is named after Scottish rugby star, Doddie Weir, a household name in Scotland.


It’s Classic Day at Turffontein on Saturday and punters are faced with the unusual situation of having odds on favourites in both the colts and fillies races.

Sandringham Summit is 6-10 for the TAB SA Classic and Gimme A Nother is 1-3 for the second leg of the Triple Tiara, the Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic.

However, I believe a possible way to make a profit is to take the exacta and swinger with Barbaresco in the Classic. Sandringham Summit to win from Barbaresco in the exacta and the swinger as a back-up bet of the two horses.

Barbaresco’s form includes a length second to Main Defender and there’s little doubt this Johan Janse van Vuuren inmate is on the upgrade.

Ryan Munger retains the ride and is drawn on the outside but right next to Sandringham Summit.