Twelve months on from causing a shock in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, Teahupoo was at it again, albeit to a much lesser extent, when he turned over the odds-on Impaire Et Passe to defend his title at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
This was a most admirable performance by both horse and jockey against the well touted Willie Mullins inmate. The initial slow pace looked to set things up for the favourite to use the speed his connections banked on him having in their decision to stay over hurdles this season, but Teahupoo’s well timed and well sustained challenge proved too much on the day.
“This horse has got a lot stronger,” said Gordon Elliott. “Jack was very clever on him. He said he was going to have one go at him between the final two flights and credit to the horse, he kept picking up for him.
“We’re delighted – fair play to Brian, Carmel, Rob and Courtney and the whole team (owners – Robcour), they’re looking after me with nice horses.”
Indeed the Robcour team are having a fine season with the likes of Gerri Colombe, a bona fide Gold Cup contender, the reinvigorated Bob Olinger and a host of smart younger horses.
Teahupoo’s win made it two Grade 1s on the day for Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy after Farren Glory scooped the Royal Bond. The pair so nearly had another hat-trick of Grade 1s on the day, but for the Willie Mullins-trained I Am Maximus, who denied them with Found A Fifty in the Drinmore.
Nonetheless, Elliott and Kennedy are in seriously good form, and the title talk for both is starting to get a little bit louder. After an astonishing 41 winners in Ireland in November, Elliott is nearly €600,000 clear of Willie Mullins in the race to be champion trainer, while Kennedy is 23 winners ahead of Paul Townend in the jockeys’ championship with 73 winners.
Of course, the Closutton contingent will inevitably come back strong as the season wears on, but Elliott will be delighted with what his team has achieved so far, going into the busy Christmas period.