Willie Mullins is just as enthused as everyone else at the prospect of seeing Chacun Pour Soi in action again this season.
The lightly-raced seven-year-old has run just twice for Mullins since moving from France in December 2016, but has impressed on both occasions.
He gave notice of his talent when winning on his Irish debut by 31 lengths at Navan – and then left Defi Du Seuil and stablemate Duc Des Genievres, who had both won at Cheltenham, trailing in his wake at Punchestown.
Chacun Pour Soi impressed in the Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival last season
When asked if people were right to be getting excited about Chacun Pour Soi this season, Mullins said: “Yes. He’s in great order.
“We’d been waiting for him to come out for a long time last season, but his run at Punchestown was exceptional.
“We have to try to repeat that form this year. He’s in the John Durkan (at Punchestown next month), but there’ll be others. I wouldn’t want him and Min against each other at this point in time.
“He’s comfortable at two miles, but I don’t mind going out in trip. He’ll get an entry in the Hilly Way, and there are not many more two-mile races around before Christmas.
“He’s not fragile, but different things have happened – and because he’s so good, I’ve been inclined to give him more of a break.
“Last year, when he came right, it was too late to go to Cheltenham – but I wanted to get him going. Sometimes when you get them on the track they stay sounder, and he’s been good this year.
“I don’t think ground is an issue- he’s a good horse, he’ll go on any ground.
“The John Durkan is probably the one definite place I can aim with Min – he likes the track, and if he’s fine he’ll go there.”
The champion trainer has an embarrassment of riches among his chasers – with old favourites like Un De Sceaux, Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo and of course the grounded Kemboy, who is unable to run until an ownership dispute has been sorted out, all among his team.
“Un De Sceaux will probably go for the Tingle Creek again,” said Mullins.
“We got it wrong when holding him up in the Ryanair at Cheltenham last year. It didn’t suit him at all, and we won’t be making that mistake again. The way the ground is at the moment suits him really well.
“Al Boum Photo, I’m not sure where I’m going to go. He’s entered in the John Durkan, but that might be too near Christmas (Leopardstown), so I might do something like we did last year.
“Tramore is a possible, and it might depend on if Kemboy can run or not. I’d imagine that will all be sorted by then.
“Burrows Saint still has a bit to go to reach the top level – but he’s young enough. The obvious target this year looks to be the Aintree National, but I think he’s too nice a horse to keep him back for that.
“When you aim at that you have to set aside the whole year, and I’m not sure I want to do that, so we might see how far up the ladder we can go. I think we’ll go for the top staying races. It will be hard to win a handicap with him now.”
Away from the three-mile-plus chasers, Mullins also has plenty more ammunition.
“Footpad will go to Thurles in a couple of weeks for a race over two-four or two-six,” he said.
“My plan is to go up in trip. I wouldn’t see a problem going three miles with him, but he needs to put a bad year behind him.
“Great Field was supposed to run the other day and will appear shortly, possibly in the Hilly Way.
“Real Steel won over two and a half the other day, and he’s in the King George. I want to go up in trip with him, and it appears he’s better right-handed. He won very well in the north (Down Royal) – I was very pleased with him.
“Getabird is in the John Durkan and seems to be another better right-handed.
“Cilaos Emery was very good the other day, so something like the Hilly Way may be for him.
“Faugheen, we’ll find a beginners’ chase for. I’d be happy to let him have a run at the weekend (at Punchestown) – he doesn’t have to win, I just want to get him out.
“Laurina has options, a mares’ chase at Thurles or a beginners’ at Gowran in the next 10 days – I hope she’ll make one of those, and I’d say Gowran might be favourite at the moment.
“She looks a real chasing mare and jumps well enough as well, so I’m happy.
“Melon ran the other day, and he looks like he wants to go up in trip. He was giving 8lb to a good horse (Fakir D’Oudairies) – who won’t be getting that after Christmas. The winner hurdled his fences, while we jumped them like a chaser – he just wants a trip.
“Allaho has had a small setback but hopefully will be back in early December – I want to get him out as early as I can and get a run in before Christmas.
“Tornado Flyer was very good the other day, and we’ll try to keep him to the minimum trip – so the Racing Post Novice Chase and the Irish Arkle over two miles will be his aim. He’ll go on good ground and has plenty of ability.”
CABARET QUEEN HEAD THREE POSSIBLE CONTENDERS FOR MULLINS IN LADBROKES TROPHY
Cabaret Queen heads Willie Mullins’ three possible contenders for this month’s Ladbrokes Trophy.
Wide-margin Munster National winner Cabaret Queen appears to be the multiple Irish champion trainer’s chief hope of winning the famous Newbury handicap for the second time in three years.
He describes Yorkhill as “one of the most frustrating horses we’ve ever had” – but that will all be forgotten should the nine-year-old belie his current ante-post odds of 33-1 by finally realising his once huge potential.
Pleasant Company, runner-up in last year’s Grand National at Aintree but largely out of form in just four outings since, completes the trio of Mullins possibles.
He said: “We have left in Cabaret Queen, Yorkhill and Pleasant Company.
“The plan is for Cabaret Queen to run. She got a fair hike after winning well at Limerick but will take her chance.”
That success came at just the mare’s second attempt since switching to Mullins from Dan Skelton’s Warwickshire yard, and she has gone up more than a stone in the ratings in recognition of her improved performance.
By contrast, long-term Closutton resident Yorkhill currently loiters well below his peak chase rating of 2017 – having won just one of his last 13 races and revealed alarming tendencies to pull away his chances and jump violently to his left at times.
Mullins said: “Yorkhill must be one of the most frustrating horses we’ve ever had.
“He’s got so much ability but is very hard on himself. He’s bred to want more than three miles – but the way he races he just doesn’t give himself a chance to settle.”
Even so, Mullins hopes this staying test may bring about a resurgence from the nine-year-old, adding: “He’s come down a bit in the handicap – which helps – and he needs to go left-handed, so Newbury suits on that front.”
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