Horse Racing: Timeform’s 3 things to watch on this high-quality jumps weekend

Timeform’s Adam Houghton picks out three things to mark your card on Saturday and Sunday.

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Time for Chacun to show his class

Chacun Pour Soi fluffed his lines on his only previous start in Britain, finishing third when sent off the 13/8-on favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Anybody who got stuck in at those short odds might be afraid of getting their fingers burnt again, but the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday gives Chacun Pour Soi the perfect platform to erase the memories of that surprise defeat.

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Successful on seven of his nine starts since joining the Willie Mullins yard, Chacun Pour Soi is clearly a two-mile chaser out of the very top drawer, as he showed when bouncing back from his Cheltenham defeat with an impressive win over stablemate Allaho at the Punchestown Festival in April.

With a Timeform rating of 179, Chacun Pour Soi is the highest-rated chaser in training and seemingly far superior to any of his four rivals at Sandown (14:25). Put simply, there shouldn’t be any excuses if he fails to get the job done on his second foray across the Irish Sea.

Appreciate It Paul Townend Cheltenham Festival March 16, 2021

Mullins readies his heavy artillery

Chacun Pour Soi is not the only big name set to be unleashed by Mullins over the next few days. The trainer has been typically slow to get going this autumn as he waits for softer going, but things are set to step up a gear with runners at five different meetings this weekend.

Elimay makes the trip to Aintree on Saturday (12:20), while Mullins is set to saddle seven runners at Navan on the same afternoon. However, aside from Chacun Pour Soi at Sandown, perhaps the pick of the entries from Closutton are at Cork and Punchestown on Sunday, with no fewer than six individual Cheltenham Festival winners featuring on that list.

Appreciate It and Ferny Hollow both have the option of the beginners’ chase at Punchestown, while Mullins was responsible for nine of the 17 entries for the John Durkan Memorial Chase on the same card, including runaway Ryanair winner Allaho.

Over at Cork, Energumene will be the star act in the Hilly Way Chase, while last season’s Champion Bumper one-two, Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit, are both entered in the Maiden Hurdle. All we need now is some rain and we’ll have the perfect recipe for a thrilling weekend.

Many Clouds looks a cracker

Mullins had also entered Al Boum Photo in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on Saturday, but the dual Gold Cup winner didn’t appear in the final declarations as the lack of rain on Merseyside delays his return to action. Nevertheless, the Many Clouds still has the look of a fascinating contest, with another previous Gold Cup winner, Native River, topping a field of eight (14:05).

Now an 11-year-old, Native River showed he is still capable of high-class form when easily winning the rescheduled Cotswold Chase at Sandown in January, and he was far from disgraced on his next start when faring best of the British behind Minella Indo in the latest edition of the Gold Cup.

Others to look out for include Imperial Aura, who probably would have been placed but for falling in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last time, and Protektorat, who ran a huge race under top weight when filling the runner-up spot in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month.

Throw into the mix the dual Grand National winner, five-time Cheltenham Festival hero and all-around legend Tiger Roll, then you have all the makings of a race to savour.

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