Unbeaten chaser Impervious has impressed lots of good judges this season and connections will be hoping she can carry on in that vein in the Mares' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
As the countdown for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival intensifies, we are taking a look at some of the horses expected to play major roles in the Cotswolds.
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 her major spring target.
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||4.50, Friday 17th March, 2023|
|How to watch||ITV Racing, Racing TV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||Allegorie De Vassy 7/4, Impervious 7/4, Scarlet And Dove 7/1, Jeremys Flame 11/1, Elimay 12/1, Zambella 16/1, Galia Des Liteaux 16/1|
Impervious made a good fist of things over hurdles last season but already looks destined to make her mark as a chaser.
She won her first three starts last term 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 and went straight to Cheltenham in March, 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.
It's been this season that Impervious has 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, ensuring she's 7/4 for the Mares' Chase on 17th March.
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.
As the Festival creeps ever closer, her main rival on the betting is Mullins' Allegorie De Vassy at 7/4.
She can lay claim to having beaten Brandy Love over hurdles last season and is 2-2 as a chaser this campaign. Owned by Rich Ricci, it ensures the Mares' Chase could be a pivotal end to the Cheltenham Festival with two powerhouse owners involved.
McManus is 13/8 to be the leading owner over the four days in the Cotswolds, while Ricci is 9/2 despite coming out of the recent Dublin Racing Festival without a graded-race winner since last spring.
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A successful amateur rider in his day, Colm 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.