Rhys Williams was on the mark yesterday with a 20/1 winner and 28/1 place and has a confident selection for the final day of the Festival in the Triumph Hurdle.
Very promising hurdling debut at Leopardstown
Cheltenham 13:30: Il Etait Temps 1pt e/w 11/1
Il Etait Temps finished behind Vauban and Fil Dor in the Spring Juvenile but I think he has a better chance of reversing that form than the market suggests.
He started his career in France with Emmanuel Clayeux and had two runs in AQPS flat races for him. He was extremely green on debut at Moulins when he finished fifth and duly built on that next time at Vichy when finishing second despite being trapped wide and still showing signs of inexperience.
He was bought to join Willie Mullins after that and ran a very promising race on his first start for his new yard at Leopardstown after 261 days off the track. He was initially very keen under restraint at the back of the field and his jumping early on was a mixed bag of mistakes and jumping too big.
That gradually improved during the race and he made headway on the outside approaching 2 out but ran around approaching that hurdle and had to be shaken along getting away from it. He moved into fifth turning in and was only ridden hands and heels until after the last where he stayed on under strong pressure to finish third.
Considering how much he did wrong this was a fine hurdling debut from Il Etait Temps and suggested there could be a fair bit of improvement to come as he gained more experience. I think this track with the long run between the last two hurdles will suit him and he should be suited by the stiff finish judging by how strongly he galloped out past the line at Leopardstown.
It may turn out that he's not mentally sharp enough to show his best yet but given the potential for improvement I think he's overpriced and any 9/1 or bigger appeals.