The great Altior and trainer Nicky Henderson held a stranglehold over the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham Festival between 2018 and 2019. However, 2020 was supposed to be the year when their reign was ended by a superior challenger.
The exciting Chacun Pour Soi out of Willie Mullins’ yard was building momentum to knock off the Irish thoroughbred in what was a potentially mouth-watering duel in the Cotswolds course. However, both competitors were forced to withdraw from the contest due to injury, robbing spectators the opportunity of seeing a legend battle it out with a young upstart.
Politologue capitalised on their absences to win the Champion Chase, earning an impressive victory to enhance his reputation. However, all eyes will turn to the talented duo in their return to the track.
Fortunately the 2020/21 National Hunt campaign is on the horizon and will provide the opportunity for the two horses to face off, beginning with the Tingle Creek Chase. Altior is the leading contender to triumph being backed at 10/3 in the horse racing betting odds, while Mullins’ charge is considered an outsider at 12/1 – still with something to prove against quality opposition.
The French thoroughbred has that raw ability that could trouble a truly great horse of Altior’s ilk. He looked excellent from the early days of his career after transferring into Mullins yard in 2016. It took two years for him to make his first appearance, beginning his jumps career in Ireland in the Beginners’ Chase at Naas. Chacun Pour Soi dominated the rest of the field, winning by a huge margin of 31 lengths.
The standards were raised for his second outing at Punchestown in the Ryanair Novice Chase. Defi Du Seuil and Duc Des Genievres were present in the field, with the latter being a stable-mate of Chacun Pour Soi’s and the preferred ride of Paul Townend. Robbie Power took to the reins of the seven-year-old and delivered another accomplished performance. He overcame a couple of minor mistakes and powered down the stretch to beat out his rivals by a comfortable distance, ending his 2018/19 season on a high note.
He returned to action at the end of December after a seven-month layoff at Leopardstown. Although, Chacun Pour Soi was considered the favourite, he was off the pace for the first time since his move to Mullins’ yard and was well beaten by A Plus Tard. However, he returned to form at the Dublin Chase in February with Townend in the saddle. The French thoroughbred was able to see off the threat of his stable-mate Min to close out the win by three-and-three-quarter lengths. The result seemingly handed Chacun Pour Soi the momentum to take into Cheltenham Festival and his clash with Altior, only to suffer a foot abscess which forced the hand of Mullins to withdraw his charge.
His potential and quality are there to see in abundance, although it may take time for him to get up to speed after a long period away from the track. Altior along with Defi Du Seuil and Politologue will not be easily conquered, but Mullins could have another great one at his disposal if Chacun Pour Soi can live up his lofty expectations.