WILLIE Mullins has insisted Chacun Pour Soi must “bring his A-game to the table” if he is to win Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown Park.
Ireland’s champion jumps trainer, who is bidding for a second victory in the Grade One contest having won the 2016 renewal with Un De Sceaux, holds a strong hand in this year’s two-mile division, with last season’s Ryanair Chase winner Allaho and the Grade One-winning novice Energumene also considered for this race.
But in the end Mullins singled out “the natural candidate” to line up at Sandown Park as Chacun Pour Soi, a son of Policy Maker who heads the market at 11-10 with race sponsor Betfair.
He explained: “We are all good and I was happy with his work and everything, so we are all set for Sandown on Saturday.
“I thought he was the natural candidate for this race, because for me Allaho’s obvious target was Punchestown (for the John Durkan Memorial Chase on Sunday) and Energumene can go to Cork (for the Hilly Way Chase on Sunday). They all seemed the obvious targets and everything has gone according to plan with all three horses.
“He is going to have to bring his A-game to the table here, but that’s what you expect for this sort of prize money and this level of race. You expect competition, you can’t expect freebies.
“It’s a feature race and it’s a race that I always want to have a runner in. We’ve been lucky enough with Un De Sceaux and although we’d have preferred more rain this time, I’m sure the opposition would have too. Hopefully the watering of the track during the midweek is fine.”
The Susannah Ricci-owned nine year old has had just one start on these shores to date, finishing third in last season’s Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and is due to face a strong field on Saturday afternoon. His four opponents include the Grade One winner Greaneteen and Nube Negra, who finished one place ahead of Chacun Pour Soi at Cheltenham.
Chacun Pour Soi’s regular partner Paul Townend continues his return from injury, meaning Patrick Mullins will take over in the saddle but the switch is not giving connections any reason for concern.
Willie Mullins added: “He is a beautiful horse to ride. You may remember the video that Danny did with his headcam the day he went schooling at Leopardstown, which was just poetry in motion.
“He seems to be like that at home – he’s push button stuff so hopefully he’ll handle the ground and I don’t think it will hold any fears for neither me nor Patrick. To get a ride in a race like that is huge for him and he’s really looking forward to it.
“Paul (Townend) is riding work today but I just felt that we might wait a few more days with him and he probably felt himself that if he’s coming back he wants to be coming back right.”
This is a big weekend for the Mullins operation, with several big names appearing in both Britain and Ireland, and Ireland’s champion jumps trainer went on: “We’ve got plenty of runners coming out and this is probably the first weekend we’ve had a good few runners.
“It should give us a good idea of where our horses stand, but the few that have been running have been doing well so they’re probably advanced enough.
“I was very happy with last weekend with Statuaire winning at Fairyhouse and several running well, so hopefully that’s the start of our winter season. We’d still like a lot more rain. We got a bit the other day and hopefully we’ll get some more.”
Betfair Spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: “Chacun Pour Soi is the star attraction and heads the betting at 11-10 but the Shloer Chase winner, Nube Negra, has been very popular with punters and the same can be said of Hitman who is now 10-1 from 20-1.”
Betfair odds: 11-10 Chacun Pour Soi; 5-2 Nube Negra; 4-1 Greaneteen; 10-1 Captain Guinness, Hitman.
Meanwhile, Mullins is due to have a runner at Aintree on Becher Chase Day on Saturday in the form of Elimay, who takes her chance in the Listed Unibet Houghton Mares’ Chase – which was transferred from last week’s abandoned meeting at Carlisle.
The seven year old finished a fine second in the Grade Two Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and while Mullins admitted that it is not ideal for his charge to be travelling via ferry twice in one week, he was hopeful of a big run.
He said: “Elimay is on her way to England today and she’s in good form, so I’d be hoping on her rating that she’d take a bit of beating. Travelling over and back twice in one week is not ideal and they saw all four seasons coming back from Carlisle! They were back safe and sound though, so fingers crossed.”
One horse who will not be heading to Aintree on Saturday is the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, who was not declared for the Grade Two Unibet Many Clouds Chase.
Mullins explained: “Al Boum Photo is in great form. I could have declared him for Punchestown but we’ve got a lot of runners there. He’s ready to run, but I just thought that going to Aintree for a race over three miles and one furlong against race-fit horses might be just too much.
“He’ll probably have a gallop on Sunday rather than a race and we’ll perhaps look to Tramore for his first start.”
By Nick Seddon (The Jockey Club)