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Cheltenham Festival: Chacun Pour Soi

He's into the veteran stages of his career now and Chacun Pour Soi has certainly hit a crossroads this season – can he belatedly bag a Cheltenham Festival win?

As the countdown for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival intensifies, we are taking a look at some of the horses expected to play major roles in the Cotswolds.

Chacun Pour Soi was beaten favourite in the 2021 Queen Mother Champion Chase, finishing third, before unseating in the same contest last March in his only two Cheltenham starts.

He now faces an uphill task if he's ever going to shine on this, racing's grandest stage.

What:Ryanair Chase - Cheltenham Festival
Where:Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire
When:2.50, Thursday 16th March, 2023
How to watch:ITV Racing, Racing TV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming
Odds:Allaho 7/4, Shishkin 8/1, Blue Lord 8/1, Fakir D'oudairies, Conflated 12/1, Chacun Pour Soi 50/1 

Has Chacun's chance gone?

It's tough not to conclude that Chacun Pour Soi most likely had his chance to shine in the 2021 Queen Mother Champion Chase, a contest he was 8/13 favourite to win, but an afternoon when he could only manage third behind the mare Put The Kettle On and Rouge Vif. 

He appeared to be moving as well as any turning for home but didn't find as much as looked likely in the final stages, something that has often been labelled at this superb jumper.

Many of his standout performances have come when it was his jumping and speed through the air that made him stand out, allied to an ability to turn on the taps in the middle third of a race when he'd take his rivals from their comfort zone and build for himself an advantage. 

Often in those races it looked as though he would cruise to victory, only for Paul Townend to end up working harder than expected late on to preserve the gap.

And so it was that afternoon in Cheltenham, that he had travelled well into contention but his rivals were side-by-side with him jumping the last and Chacun Pour Soi couldn't brush them aside as the odds suggested he might.

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Going sideways ever since

Since that afternoon in 2021, Chacun Pour Soi has been going mostly in a sideways trajectory. He'd won 6-7 as a chaser to that point and, while he landed the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Punchestown next time, his record since that Cheltenham defeat shows only two wins in seven.

He wasn't able to lay a blow on stablemate Energumene last season and has been beaten in both starts this term.

The first of those was at his beloved Leopardstown over Christmas when a shuddering error two out left him settling for third as stablemate Blue Lord won well. That was only his second defeat in six appearances at the Foxrock venue, all of them in Grade 1 company.

Since that, he's gone to Thurles and tried 2m4½f for the first time in his career, but he was easily repelled in a Grade 2 race won fortuitously be Fakir D'oudairies. 

It leaves Chacun Pour Soi and his connections staring at the drawing board as Cheltenham looms, in what surely would be his last chance to shine at the top table in the Cotswolds given he will be 12 next year.

Mullins retains plenty options 

If there's one thing we come to expect with his trainer Willie Mullins, it's that he'll have options come Cheltenham. 

That's where Chacun Pour Soi finds himself now, clutching entries in the Champion Chase, where he is 50/1 over two-miles, as well as the Ryanair Chase (50/1) over an intermediate trip and even the three-mile Stayers' Hurdle (66/1), which would be a left-field option.

Even the most ardent fan of the Rich Ricci-owned Chacun Pour Soi would admit that it's going to take something quite special for him to win at The Festival in the twilight of his career. 

But if anyone can mastermind a Cheltenham rise from the ashes, then it is most likely WP Mullins, the all-time leading trainer at the meeting with 88 winners. 

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