Chacun Pour Soi puts his huge reputation on the line once again in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown.
Willie Mullins has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the nine-year-old, who has been beaten just once in five starts since arriving in Ireland.
Having impressed in winning this Grade One contest 12 months ago, Chacun Pour Soi was strongly fancied to provide the most successful trainer in Cheltenham Festival history with his first Queen Mother Champion Chase, only to suffer a minor injury on the morning of the race.
He is already favourite to right that wrong in the Cotswolds next month, following wins at Cork and Leopardstown this season, but first has top-level business to take care off at the Dublin Racing Festival on Saturday.
“I’m hoping he’ll come on again after his run at Christmas and keep improving,” said Mullins.
“A lot of our horses missed the spring because there was none of the big festivals, so they are all a little bit heavier and not as fit as they would have been – because they had such a long Covid break.
“Chacun Pour Soi missed the early part of his career, but we have had no problems since then.
“We’ve always held him in huge esteem. His work at home has always been very good, and the first day that he schooled around Leopardstown with Danny (Mullins) on was awesome to watch.
“He’s a horse that commands a lot of respect around here.”
Chacun Pour Soi’s biggest threat appears to be his stablemate Min, who claimed this prize in both 2018 and 2019, but had to make do with the runner-up spot 12 months ago.
The 10-year-old was last seen bagging a third win in the John Durkan at Punchestown and is using this weekend’s race as a stepping-stone to the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, which he won last season.
Mullins added: “After the John Durkan we said we were going to miss Christmas, run him here and then go to Cheltenham, hopefully.”
The Closutton handler has a third string to his bow in Tornado Flyer, who drops almost a mile in trip after finishing fifth in the Savills Chase in December.
“I went and ran him in the three-mile race at Christmas. He jumped so badly early on. He ran well to finish fifth, considering what he did over the first mile,” said the champion trainer.
“He has plenty of stamina in his pedigree, and if he could just learn to harness that speed he’d be ideal for three miles.”
Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook won the Irish Arkle over the course and distance at this meeting last year, but has six and a half lengths to make up on Chacun Pour Soi on their meeting over Christmas.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained Fakir D’oudairies and Sizing Pottsie, from Jessica Harrington’s yard, complete the line-up.