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Despite mixed reactions to CHACUN POUR SOI’s 19-length victory in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork earlier in the month, Joe Chambers – racing manager to owner Susannah Ricci – believes the eight-year-old is better prepared for this year’s Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase.
The race takes place on Paddy Power Day at Leopardstown (13:10) on December 27, and Chambers fancies a better showing from the Willie Mullins-trained runner than when he was denied by A Plus Tard in the same contest in 2019. Chacun Pour Soi is (at the time of writting) Paddy’s hot favourite for this Grade 1 event.
“He’s been absolutely fine since Cork,” said Chambers. “He went there (Leopardstown) last year without a run, which he has had this year and hopefully, he’s come forward fitness wise. We think he has.
“Obviously the shape of the race has changed now with Put The Kettle On, the Arkle winner, going for it and you’ve got Notebook in there as well, so it’s going to be a competitive race. We’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on and shapes up against last year’s novices.
“Cork was fine, he looked pretty tired afterwards and it was advertised at the time that Willie’s horses were winning despite a possible lack of fitness. He managed to win despite this and while he didn’t jump as fluently as he can, we’re hoping for an improved performance.”
Chacun Pour Soi currently heads Paddy’s Queen Mother Champion Chase market at Cheltenham in March with Politologue and Altior behind him. Asked what he thought of those odds, Chambers replied as follows.
“We’re not paying too much attention to that. Obviously, Politologue won it last year and we do have some unfinished business in the race after the likes of Douvan, Min and Chacun Pour Soi either disappointed or didn’t get the run of the race, but we’ll just take each race as it comes.
“I’d say if things did go well for him at Leopardstown, the Dublin Chase would be next more than likely, but it’s not all about the destination. It should be about the journey and this is an important race in its own right.”
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Mrs Ricci also has ANNAMIX in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase and Chambers warns against ruling out the former Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite, who is an outside poke with Paddy after winning his first two starts over the bigger obstacles – including an easy nine length win in a chase at Gowran Park last month.
“He got caught by the pandemic and had only had one run before November so is very inexperienced,” added Chambers.
“This is open company, but we think he has improved a lot over the last 18 months and I don’t think he should be discounted.”
A busy day for Team Ricci also includes N’GOLO lining up in the Grade 1 Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle (13:45) for which he is a decent-priced chance after finishing a two length third to Ballyadam, who reopposes the top-class Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month.
“He’s a grand horse, huge for a Flat horse and the race at Fairyhouse probably wasn’t run to suit him. I know Paul [Townend] has gone for Appreciate It and given he was a high-class bumper horse. you’d expect that,” Chambers explained.
“He has a good idea of the horses, but Fairyhouse wasn’t run to suit and I think a good earnest gallop in the race at Leopardstown will suit better. He’s a horse I don’t think we’ve seen the best of, and I can see him improving as the season goes along.”
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