Alfa Mix leads McManus’s strong bid for more glory in Paddy Power Chase

Ilikedwayurthinkin could be the value option in fiercely competitive day two feature

Ilikedwayurthinkin: Alfa Mix’s stable companion first made an impression over flights when striking twice at the 2019 Galway festival and subsequently has won two of his seven starts over fences. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Figuring out what JP McManus may be thinking is something that preoccupies minds far beyond just racing but it will be to the forefront of reckoning what might happen in Leopardstown’s day two feature.

McManus has nine shots at a ninth success in the €200,000 Paddy Power Chase including the prime market fancy Alfa Mix.

The Gavin Cromwell-trained charge sports first-time cheek pieces and a 4lb higher handicap mark on the back of chasing home Fully Charged at Punchestown last month.

Despite it being over two years since Alfa Mix got his head in front he has been well supported in betting markets that are always finely attuned to such moves for a McManus runner.


The hugely influential businessman and owner is almost invariably a major player in the big handicap prizes and none more so than this one.

Auvergnat in 2018 was the last of his previous eight Paddy Power victories, although that one’s 28-1 ‘SP’ indicates how the market isn’t always an accurate guide.

The 2017 winner Aniable Fly hosed up at 14-1 and subsequently was good enough to reach the Cheltenham Gold Cup frame.

He carried 11.8, while last year’s winner Castlebawn West carried 2lbs more, proving how quality can still emerge on top in one of the most competitive handicaps of the year.

His trainer Willie Mullins has four chances of a 2021 repeat with the sponsors' initial reaction apparently being that Lord Royal and claimer Jack Foley represent his best chance.

Gordon Elliott has a quartet of hopefuls too and The Bosses Oscar has also been a consistent factor at the head of the ante-post lists.

He has had the look of a horse with a big pot in him for quite some time and has been backed accordingly only to prove expensive to follow. This would be a perfect date to end a frustrating streak of placed efforts.

Another contender towards the head of the betting is Noble Yeats and he can boast a very different profile in terms of strike rate, including an eye-catching defeat of Gabynako at Galway in October.

Emmet Mullins, who also has Russian Diamond in the contest, is another figure the layers are always wary of and Noble Yeats will be equipped with a first-time hood.

Perhaps the value option in a fiercely contested 28-runner field though could prove to be another of the McManus squad, Ilikedwayurthinkin.

Alfa Mix’s stable companion first made an impression over flights when striking twice at the 2019 Galway festival and subsequently has won two of his seven starts over fences.

His jumping has looked sketchy at times but Philip Dempsey got a good tune out of him at Ballinrobe in September and is back on board again.

The holiday period’s big handicap is a teaser but so too is the €125,000 Grade One Rewards Club Chase despite only four lining up.

When half the field comprises Chacun Pour Soi and Envoi Allen then it’s not going to be straightforward.

Two miles

The horse officially rated the best in the game and the one long acclaimed as the next big thing make for a fascinating prospect, although the pair, remarkably, still have plenty to prove considering the top-flight prizes under their belts.

Envoi Allen probably can never live up to the expectations held for him in his novice days but a return to two miles potentially opens up a new sphere to him.

He does, however, have a stone to find with Chacun Pour Soi on ratings who won this race in 2020 and has at time looked outstanding.

Maybe it is coincidence that both times he hasn’t have been in Britain including in the Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier this month.

Willie Mullins has reported that Chacun Pour Soi lost a ‘chestnut’ from a back leg in that race and was sore afterwards. Combine that with being back on home ground and Envoi Allen looks like having his hands full.

Monday’s other Grade One action at Leopardstown is the Future Champions Novice Hurdle which has lived up to its name over the years with winners such Hurricane Fly (2008,) Jezki (2012) and Sizing John in 2014.

The form of Largy Debut’s defeat of Kilcruit at Cork will get tested and a strongly run race on easier ground than he faced in the Royal Bond could make Mighty Potter a real threat.

Haut En Couleurs looks a very interesting four-year-old prospect going over fences for the first time.