Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins is the most successful in the history of the Cheltenham Festival having saddled 65 winners.
He captured the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award for sixth time back in March thanks to four successes, including the the biggest prize of all at Cheltenham Festival when Al Boum Photo powered to glory in the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup – but there is still one Grade 1 championship at the four-day spectacular that he is yet to get his hands on.
That is the Queen Mother Champion Chase which takes place on day two. However, in Chacun Pour Soi, which means every man for himself in French, he looks to have a leading contender to bag success in the 2020 running of the 2m contest.
This gelding won one of his four starts in France an joined Mullins in December 2016 after being purchased by leading owner Rich Ricci who has enjoyed tremendous success at the Cheltenham Festival with the likes of Annie Power, Douvan, Faugheen and Vautour.
Chacun Pour Soir then had a number of injury problems which resulted him being in the sidelines for 1 089 days before running out a very impressive winner of a nice chase at Naas when making all and jumping well to win very easily by 31 lengths.
Hottest two mile novice chase of the season
That most taking display earned him a crack at the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
It was arguably the hottest two mile novice chase of the season as among the runners were Defi Du Seuil and Duc Des Genievres, winners of the JLT and Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, Aintree scorer Ornua and Voix Du Reve who came into the contest having won a Grade I at Fairyhouse.
Chacun Pour Soir looked to face a mammoth task on paper on just his third ever start over fences, but was backed off the boards and sent off just 3/1.
After being patiently ridden and waited with in fifth early doors by jockey Robbie Power, the son of Policy Maker made a slight mistake four from hoen when making a move. Chacun Pour Soi quickly recovered to take up the running going well three form home where he made another error.
Defi Du Seuil then emerged from the pack to throw down a strong challenge approaching the last, but Chacun Pour Soi was not going to be passed and stayed on strongly on the run-in to pull clear and win readily by 4 1/.4 lengths.
The front two pulled a further 15 lengths clear of the third home Duc De Genievres, so that gives the form a rock solid look.
Mullins stunned by ease of success
It was an awesome performance from Chacun Pour Soi on just his seventh life time start and one which stunned Mullins with the ease in which he got the job done.
Speaking after the race, he told Racing TV: “He’s had lots of niggly little problems, which kept him off for three years.
“He’s all the time shown me he could be a real racehorse. To turn in today with a JLT winner on one side and an Arkle winner on the other side – and Robbie said he was cantering. That shows us that he’s a real horse for the future.
“I said to Robbie ‘ride him around the outside and don’t get involved in a race with any of the other horses because he’s had so few runs – but if he’s as good as we think he is God knows what will happen.”
No firm plans for the future
He added: “I just thought about getting here today and haven’t thought any further than that. He’s just matured now, and hopefully it will get better next year. I won’t make any plans now about where he’ll start next year.
“You get a lot of disappointments with horses, but we always thought he could be a Grade One horse. It’s a bit unorthodox, coming out in March to win a beginners chase and then throwing him straight into a Grade One race.
“I hadn’t thought about what distance he might want in the future. I didn’t look on him as a Champion Chase horse. He’ll gallop and he’ll stay all day, and soft ground would be no problem to him.
“We might keep him to two miles next year, but there will have to be lots of thinking done.”
Queen Mother should be the target
Mullins may be unsure as to what the ultimate target will be for Chacun Pour Soi at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival should things go to plan, but if he were mine then the Queen Mother Champion Chase would be firmly on the agenda.
He has a high cruising speed, jumps well in the main, and also has a smart turn of foot. Those are the perfect attributes for the contest and having the stamina to stay further is no bad thing as the race is usually run at a strong end-to-end gallop.
Connections of Altior, who has won the last two renewals, also plan to step him up in trip next season – so there has to be a big question mark as to whether he will attempt to land the hat-trick.
If he does not line-up then that leaves the way for a young pretender to step up to the plate. Chacun Pour Soi fits that bill more than any other up and coming chaser I saw in the 2018/19 season.
What he has achieved in such a short space of time is incredible. At a current standout 8/1 with bet365 in the ante post betting for the 2020 Queen Mother Champion Chase he looks cracking each-way value.