Fresh Willie Mullins blow with horse tipped to ‘light up the jumps’ axed from Cheltenham Festival

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WILLIE MULLINS has axed a horse tipped to ‘light up the jumps’ from Cheltenham Festival.

Impaire et Passe was an awesome winner of the Ballymore last year – smashing subsequent Grade 1 monster Gaelic Warrior by six-and-a-half lengths.

GettyImpaire et Passe won’t be heading to Cheltenham this year.[/caption]

And he was as short as 8-1 in the Stayers’ Hurdle and 16-1 for the Champion Hurdle this year.

But Mullins has pulled the plug on his Festival participation after the six-year-old gelding, who is owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, flopped completely at Leopardstown last weekend.

Impaire Et Passe has not won a race this season, being beaten first time out by Gordon Elliot’s Stayers’ Hurdle fav Teahupoo in the Hatton’s Grace and then State Man the past twice. 

Bad news is rare for genius trainer Mullins, who cleaned up at the Dublin Racing Festival last weekend, taking home every one of the eight Grade 1s on the card.

But its clear things are not going as planned with this particular horse. 

According to Anthony Bromley, Munir’s racing manager, Impaire et Passe is ‘fine’, but ‘not sparkling like he did last season.’ 

And it looks like a break is in stall for the ex-superstar. 

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Bromley said: “We just felt we’d keep him fresh and think about running in the Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles in April at the Grand National meeting.

“Daryl [Jacob, jockey] feels we’ve got to get him up to two and a half and is adamant we should try that at Aintree. 

“Running him over three miles at this stage in the Stayers’ might bottom him and it’s just not working over two miles for him at the moment.”

Even so, Bromley admitted that if the horse still wasn’t ‘sparkling’ come a potential trip to Aintreel, connections would likely wait for novice chasing next season.

Mullins – whose unknown horse has been backed for the Betfair Hurdle this weekend – isn’t the only trainer taking a second glance through his entries for March. 

Nicky Henderson has withdrawn Jonbon, who was beaten by Joe TIzzard’s Elixir Du Nutz last time out, from the Ryanair Chase, having set his sights firmly on beating El Fabiolo in the Champion Chase. 

The Gold Cup has lost Venetia Williams’ Royal Pagaille, who is now without a March entry, and Paul Nicholls’ Stay Away Fay, who lines up 6-1 for the Novices’ Brown Advisory Chase. 

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