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Unbeaten chaser Impervious has impressed lots of good judges and confirmed her class by winning the 2023 Mares' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

After going on to conclude her campaign with an 11-length success at Punchestown, connections will now be putting plans in place for when the real National Hunt racing restarts in the autumn.

While she is sure to be seen over the winter, her Co Wexford-based trainer Colm Murphy is no stranger to big-race glory at Cheltenham and it's likely she will be prepared perfectly for whatever he decides will be her major spring target.

WhatMares' Chase
WhereCheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire
When4.50, Friday 15th March, 2024
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV Racing & Racing TV
OddsImpervious  7/4, Allegorie De Vassy 7/1, Instit 10/1, Dinoblue 12/1, Brandy Love 14/1  

Smart form over hurdles 

Impervious made a good fist of things over hurdles but always looked destined to make her mark as a chaser.

She won her first three starts over timber, culminating in a Grade 3 novice success at Down Royal over 2m1f at their big autumn meeting.

She was well held in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse (fifth) in her first crack in elite company in late November 2021 and went straight to Cheltenham in March 2022, where she was sixth behind Love Envoi in the Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

She rounded off her season by finishing fifth to Brandy Love at Fairyhouse, once more in Grade 1 company, in a race where Love Envoi was second.

A natural over fences

It was last season that Impervious caught the attention.

She made a winning seasonal bow/chasing debut at Wexford in October over two-miles, beating 135-rated Cayd Boy in very taking fashion after the pair pulled clear.

That prompted a rise to Grade 2 company over a furlong more at Cork in December and a showdown with the Willie Mullins-trained Dinoblue.

Both were unbeaten over fences at that point and while Dinoblue bossed the race in front, Impervious travelled sweetly and got the job done quite stylishly under Brian Hayes.

The next target was a Grade 3 novice chase against geldings at Punchestown in January as Impervious stepped up in trip to just shy of two-and-a-half-miles.

She pulled clear with the Henry De Bromhead-trained Journey With Me and enhanced her reputation with another fine win, putting her firmly in the picture as one to follow at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival.

By that point, Impervious had been snapped up by leading owner JP McManus, after he watched his Dinoblue sink to that defeat at Cork in December behind her.

The faith in her was rewarded with a fine win in the Mares' Chase, going away from the Mullins-trained Allegorie De Vassy to end the Closutton supremo's domination of the race having won the two previous runnings.

A return to the Mares' Hurdle for 2024 is being touted, with her the 7/4 favourite to become the first horse to defend the title, while Allegorie De Vassy is 7/1 to get revenge and Dinoblue is available at 12/1.

Prior to that, she could run in the King George on Boxing Day and is 16/1 to upset the boys at Kempton. Doing so could give connections ideas about possibly switching their focus for her Prestbury Park return in the spring.

Impervious is 10/1 for the Ryanair, while a shot at the big one might also be looked at, with her 33/1 for the Gold Cup, albeit the trip might prove too much for her.

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Murphy no stranger to Cheltenham success 

A successful amateur rider in his day, Murphy picked up valuable experience when employed in Ballydoyle under Aidan O'Brien before taking out his trainer's license in 2000.

He was soon to the fore as Brave Inca won ten Grade 1s for him, most notably a never-to-be-forgotten victory in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2006.

Murphy also tailored the career of Big Zeb, winner of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010.

As powerful yards like Mullins and Gordon Elliott dominated the landscape, Murphy took the racing world by surprise when announcing his intention to retire from the training ranks in the autumn of 2016.

However, he didn't stay away long and was back at it within three years.

Now, with Impervious, he's hoping to be back winning major races on National Hunt racing's biggest stage.

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