WILLIE Mullins hopes to add one of the most iconic races of the British jumps season to his haul today when he sends the top-rated chaser in training, the five-time Grade 1 winner Chacun Pour Soi for Sandown’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase, hoping to repeat Un De Sceaux’s win from 2016.
The nine-year-old will be seeking his first win in Britain after he was a late withdrawal from the 2020 Champion Chase at Cheltenham and then finished a disappointing third to Put The Kettle On and today’s rival Nube Negra when odds-on for that feature last March.
On a Jockey Club Zoom call on Thursday, Mullins gave the latest on his challenger as he oversaw the final preparations on the Closutton gallops.
He said: “We are all good and I was happy with his work and everything, so we are all set for Sandown on Saturday.
“I thought he was the natural candidate for this race, because for me Allaho’s obvious target was Punchestown and Energumene can go to Cork. They all seemed the obvious targets and everything has gone according to plan with all three horses.
“He is going to have to bring his A-game to the table here, but that’s what you expect for this sort of prize money and this level of race. You expect competition, you can’t expect freebies.
“It’s a feature race and it’s a race that I always want to have a runner in. We’ve been lucky enough with Un De Sceaux and although we’d have preferred more rain this time, I’m sure the opposition would have too.
“Hopefully the watering of the track during the midweek is fine.”
PATRICK Mullins will have the opportunity of riding over Sandown’s famous jumping track as Chacun Pour Soi’s regular partner Paul Townend holds off his return to action for a few days to return at a mid-week meeting.
“Paul is riding work today but I just felt that we might wait a few more days with him and he probably felt himself that if he’s coming back, he wants to be coming back right.”
The switch is not giving connections any reason for concern, Patrick having stepped in late for a Grade 1 novice win on Douvan at Leopardstown back in 2015.
Willie Mullins added: “He is a beautiful horse to ride. You may remember the video that Danny [Mullins] did with his headcam the day he went schooling at Leopardstown, which was just poetry in motion.
“He seems to be like that at home - he’s push button stuff so hopefully he’ll handle the ground and I don’t think it will hold any fears for neither me nor Patrick. To get a ride in a race like that is huge for him and he’s really looking forward to it.”
ELIMAY is the second Mullins runner in Britain this weekend and the four-time chase winner takes on three rivals headed by Anne Mc in the two and a half mile Listed Unibet Houghton Mares’ Chase at 12.20 in Aintree.
The race has been transferred from last week’s abandoned meeting at Carlisle, with the mare having travelled over and back last weekend.
Mullins admitted that it is not ideal for his charge to be travelling via ferry twice in one week, he was hopeful of a big run.
“Elimay is on her way to England today and she’s in good form, so I’d be hoping on her rating that she’d take a bit of beating. Travelling over and back twice in one week is not ideal and they saw all four seasons coming back from Carlisle! They were back safe and sound though, so fingers crossed,” he said.
Stars return – Photo waits
IT is a big weekend for the Mullins operation, with several big names appearing in both Britain and Ireland.
“We’ve got plenty of runners coming out and this is probably the first weekend we’ve had a good few runners,” he said.
“It should give us a good idea of where our horses stand, but the few that have been running have been doing well so they’re probably advanced enough.
Mullins also had some news of today’s absentee, the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, who was not declared for Aintree.
“Al Boum Photo is in great form. I could have declared him for Punchestown but we’ve got a lot of runners there. He’s ready to run, but I just thought that going to Aintree for a race over three miles and one furlong against race-fit horses might be just too much.
“He’ll probably have a gallop on Sunday rather than a race and we’ll perhaps look to Tramore for his first start.”