Chacun Pour Soi can add Champion Chase to Willie Mullins’s CV

Two-mile feature has eluded trainer so far but Wednesday’s favourite looks worthy

Persistence paid off for Willie Mullins in the Gold Cup and he is hoping it does the same in Cheltenham's St Patrick's Day feature, the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Filling the last major gap in his CV is tantalisingly close with Chacun Pour Soi set to start a short-priced favourite for the two-mile crown.

More than anyone though Mullins knows how a horse’s ‘SP’ is no guarantee to future performance.

It’s four years since Douvan started 2-9 in the Queen Mother only to finish seventh.

The year before that Un De Sceaux was runner-up to the outstanding Sprinter Sacre. A year afterwards Min was runner-up to the outstanding Altior.

Mullins had started to believe the Gold Cup would never come his way until after 20 years of trying - and six runner-up places - Al Boum Photo struck for 'Blue Riband' glory in 2019.

Domino

Like a domino effect the previously elusive Irish Grand National also fell his way shortly afterwards.

Now all that’s left is the two-mile title and after 18 years of trying the champion trainer looks to hold another outstanding chance.

"It would be huge for the stable and everyone here to get that win and have all the championship races at the Cheltenham festival. I'd love to do it," Mullins said.

He can also count on the recent Naas winner Cilaos Emery but there’s no disputing Chacun Pour Soi’s status as No 1 hope.

Beaten just once in seven starts for Mullins he has been billed as a potential champion ever since routing a top class novice field at Punchestown almost two years ago.

Chacun Pour Soi’s reputation has even been a two-edged sword at times.

A brief moment at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival when he appeared to struggle has even been used to ‘tut-tut’ a horse who had previously been suspected of being something of a ‘bridle’ horse.

In fact the way Chacun Pour Soi picked up when asked to leave Fakir D’oudairies in his wake looks to leave this opposition with loads on their plate.

The one chink of light many of them have clung to is that this will be the favourite’s first race at Cheltenham.

Course form

Paul Nicholls, trainer of the reigning champion, Politologue, has pointed to the merits of having proven course form on your side.

Nicholls is also double-handed and should he emerge on top he will eclipse both Tom Dreaper and Nicky Henderson with a record seventh win in the race.

Last year’s Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On is unbeaten in three starts at Cheltenham. The fact a dozen previous Arkle winners have gone on to win the Champion Chase is another stat in her favour.

In contrast the Spanish bred Nube Negra didn’t win in three previous hurdles starts at Cheltenham.

That could be construed as more of a statistical niggle than Chacun Pour Soi not having run there before. It’s just as likely he could thrive around the Old course as find it uncomfortable. Or he might just find it an irrelevance.

If it’s the latter then the good news for Mullins is that his latest big Champion Chase hope has plenty in hand of his rivals on official ratings.

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