- Willie Mullins hopes his horse Impaire Et Passe can remain unbeaten on Sunday
- The second-favourite for the 2024 Champion Hurdle races at Fairyhouse
- He is one of the potential conquerers of Nicky Henderson’s Constitution Hill
Who beats him? It’s the question everyone has been asking for months, the one revolving around Constitution Hill and the Champion Hurdle.
This should have been the day we saw the wraps taken off this most beautiful specimen, the horse that could entice a new generation of fans to the sport. Newcastle expected a huge crowd for his reappearance in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle but, unfortunately, the weather has intervened.
But that does not mean all has been lost this weekend. In Ireland on Sunday, one of those with designs on showing Constitution Hill is not unbeatable puts his own blemish-free record on the line. Nicky Henderson, certainly, will be watching when Impaire Et Passe trots out at Fairyhouse.
Trained by Willie Mullins for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Impaire Et Passe arrived at Cheltenham last spring with a reputation so huge that you simply knew there was no chance of him being beaten. So it proved.
He turned the Ballymore Novice Hurdle into a procession, going through the gears like a sprinter in the Tour De France: once he hit top stride, his green silks were a blur as he fizzed clear.
Willie Mullins’ Impaire Et Passe goes to Fairyhouse on Sunday to protect his unbeaten record
It is part of a plan to topple another unbeaten horse, Nicky Henderson’s Constitution Hill
Impaire Et Passe is second-favourite in antepost lists for the 2024 Champion Hurdle and he will aim to consolidate that position in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, a Grade One contest that has a role of honour as rich as the exploits of the horse from which it takes its name.
Mullins will not have this five-year-old at concert pitch for his first run of the campaign and he said earlier this week that ‘it will tell us where we stand with him for the rest of the season’. He will not be taking anything for granted, either, given his Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs flopped on his reappearance last week.
Listen to those closest to Impaire Et Passe, however, and it is easy to decipher the gelding — who has won his four starts over hurdles by 38½ lengths — has got it within him to show that, come March 12, Constitution Hill will not have things all his own way.
‘He looks the unfinished article — and that’s what’s exciting,’ Anthony Bromley, racing manager to Munir and Souede, told The Nick Luck Daily Podcast. ‘He won a Grade One at Punchestown, easily, by seven lengths. Then you talked to Paul (Townend, jockey) and Willie and it felt like he’d got beat.
‘They felt he was going to do something unbelievable at Punchestown and it didn’t quite happen. But that just shows the esteem in which they hold the horse — that’s how I took it on the day. He could be very good. But this is a new season and it’s a blank canvas again.’