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Nube Negra is heading across the Irish Sea for the Punchestown Champion Chase – and Dan Skelton’s star chaser is 5/1 with Paddy Power for the mouthwatering Grade 1.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up could have run in Sandown Park’s Celebration Chase and attempted to reverse the form with Cheltenham winner Put The Kettle On. Instead, trainer Skelton has decided to give his Spanish-bred seven-year-old a crack at the Willie Mullins duo of Allaho and Chacun Pour Soi.
“He’s going over to Ireland to take them on and we’re going to give it a good go,” said Skelton. “It’s not going to be easy but we’re not frightened of anyone.
“It was a tough decision and a few different factors went into it but on balance we came out in favour of Punchestown.”
The uphill finish at Cheltenham caught out Chacun Pour Soi but Nube Negra, who started out racing on the flat in Spain, stayed on well for an impressive second.
Skelton added: “He’s got to go and confirm his form from Cheltenham, but we think he’s very, very good and that he can be at this level for a long time.”
The Punchestown Champion Chase will be Nube Negra’s third run of the season having also beaten Altior on his reappearance in last December’s Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.
Chacun Pour Soi is aiming to bounce back having notched three wins from three for the season before heading to Cheltenham.
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Allaho, meanwhile, looks set to drop back in trip to the minimum distance after blitzing the field in the Ryanair Chase at Prestbury Park.
It’s got the makings of a classic – and Paddy Power duo Ruby Walsh and Frank Hickey recently debated the Chacun Pour Soi vs Allaho clash on the Punchestown preview episode of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast.
Our resident jockey-turned-pundit Ruby declared himself “in the Chacun camp” while Paddy’s top trader Frank is “leaning towards Chacun Pour Soi” because “Punchestown will be more his track”.
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