Impaire Et Passe to face stern test at Punchestown

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Impaire Et Passe puts his unbeaten record and tall reputation on the line in the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Friday. The French bumper winner made a hugely impressive hurdling debut for Willie Mullins at Naas in December before dominating his rivals in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown a month later. The Closutton dogs were barking Impaire Et Passe's name ahead of last month's Cheltenham Festival and he duly delivered, easing clear in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle in the style of a horse destined for even greater things. Mullins had the option of running the five-year-old over the Moscow Flyer distance of two miles earlier in the week, but has elected to stick to a longer trip on the penultimate day of the meeting. "We ran him over two miles in the Moscow Flyer in Punchestown before Cheltenham and the speed he showed in Cheltenham was fantastic but then again, that was against two-and-a-half-mile horses," said Mullins.

"For Impaire Et Passe, it's no problem doing two-and-a-half around Punchestown." The champion trainer also saddles Champ Kiely, who was seven and a half lengths behind Impaire Et Passe when third in the Ballymore and takes him on again. One-time Derby favourite High Definition is stepped up in distance by Joseph O'Brien following a seventh placed finish in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham. The five-year-old also sports cheek pieces for the first time since pursuing a jumping career. Amir Kabir (Gordon Elliott), Inothewayurthinkin (Gavin Cromwell) and Thecompanysergeant (Denis Hogan) are the other contenders.

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