'What's rare is beautiful' - Townend hails special Chacun Pour Soi
We might not have learned much new by Chacun Pour Soi dispatching Fakir D'Oudairies and Notebook to secure his second Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, but he proved fairly spectacularly that he is as good as ever and possibly still improving. That is some prospect.
In the equivalent two-mile contest at Christmas, the imposing Susannah and Rich Ricci-owned star dispensed with Notebook by six and a half lengths. This time, Notebook was all of 15 lengths back in third, with Fakir D’Oudairies a somewhat forlorn eight-length runner-up.
While Chacun Pour Soi may be nine years of age, the mileage is low and this was just his seventh start in three seasons for Willie Mullins.
Whereas once it appeared he might need to dominate his opposition, the manner in which he raced behind the bridle for Paul Townend suggests he is a far more mature professional now.
After they touched down at the third-last, Townend’s reins loosened as Rachael Blackmore on Notebook and Mark Walsh on Fakir D’Oudairies tried to force the issue on the front end.
But as hard as the pair tried, Townend never sent out major distress signals, and it was not until the two in front parted like the Red Sea on turning into the straight that Chacun Pour Soi began to stamp his authority on the race.
Townend nursed him along and when he pointed him at the gap, the response was emphatic. He asked his mount to reach for the final fence, got the jump they needed and the 2-5 favourite proceeded to stride clear under a clinical hands and heels drive.
“He’s special,” Townend said afterwards of a partner he is more effusive about than anything else right now.
“What’s rare is beautiful. I thought we were going as hard as the rest of them could and, when you can go that fast over fences and take them on whatever stride you get them on, that’s what we do this job for.
“I was comfortable at all stages that I could pick them up and when I got the gap in the straight, he took it.”
Victory here meant Mullins has now won all four runnings of the Dublin Chase. Min took the first two and chased Chacun Pour Soi home 12 months earlier.
This time, having vied for the lead with Notebook, Min’s jumping was sloppy under Patrick Mullins. After landing right in the middle of the sixth and seventh fences, Mullins elected to pull his mount up.
That certainly made life easier for Chacun Pour Soi, but there might not be a horse in training right now who could live with this equine colossus on a going day.
The sponsors of Saturday's €125,000 Grade 1 duly cut him to 4-6 from 11-10 to provide Mullins with that elusive first triumph in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
“That was a very good performance,” said a visibly delighted Mullins after the middle leg of his Grade 1 treble.
“He is an awesome horse to have anything to do with.”
While Townend insisted he was always happy, Mullins was among those watching on who was not so sure.
After witnessing the son of Policy Maker put back-to-back Grade 1s together for the first time, he admitted: “The end result was much better than what it looked at one stage. I couldn’t figure out whether Paul was very confident after jumping the fourth-last or whether he was just biding his time – whether the horse was taking a blow and he was just giving him a breather or whether he had nothing left in the tank.
“But Paul said he was just asleep where he was and he was happy to let the two of them battle it out and take it after the last.”
Now it is not just a question of getting him to Cheltenham, as they managed that last year before an 11th hour setback. This time they need to keep him sound for an extra 24 hours.
That could be the hardest part.
Read more big-race reports and reaction
Study the form and watch unlimited full video race replays from all 86 British and Irish racecourses. Join Members’ Club Ultimate now and never miss a race again!