Patrick Mullins feels he has a tall order ahead of him if he takes on Energumene with Chacun Pour Soi at the William Hill Champion Chase in Punchestown.
Although he shone in landing that prize 12 months ago and again in winning the Grade One Dublin Chase at Leopardstown in February, he edged out Mullins when he did well five from home in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Stablemate Energumene, who was beaten by Shishkin at Clarence House, Ascot in January, is now at the head of the two-mile pursuit division after winning the Champion Chase and giving the stable of Willie Mullins their first success in the race.
Patrick Mullins, the manager’s son and assistant, will once again partner with Chacun Pour Soi despite knowing the 10-year-old’s difficult task.
“He went into the third fence (at the Champion Chase at Cheltenham) and then jumped back,” Mullins said.
“Watching the race you would say I’m running well and I probably was, but I wasn’t surprised that he knocked me down. I just didn’t feel like he made me feel like I expected him to.
“I don’t think he played his ‘A game’ that day. I’m just disappointed because he shouldn’t be making mistakes like that.”
The Mullins team have won the final three overtimes of Day 1’s Punchestown Festival feature, Chacun Pour Soi beating Alhallo by five and a half lengths in last year’s race.
Mullins added: “It wasn’t the Chacun Pour Soi that we know, but look I thought the William Hill Champion Chase at Punchestown was one of the races of the season last year.
“I thought Paul (Townend) was brilliant with him the way he got him out and that was a great achievement the way he got Allaho completely out of his comfort zone.
“He’s 10 now and Energumene is in his prime at eight so it’s probably going to be difficult for Chacun Pour Soi but I would expect him to be a lot more like his old self and maybe he’s just a better terrain horse. It’s going to be a fantastic race and I wouldn’t rule him out.”
Energumene had a lot to do with Shishkin, who was said to be suffering from a rare bone condition, had pulled up early and Chacun Pour Soi could no longer sit.
Mullins admitted: “The reality was that the Champion Chase went to a Grade Two at Cheltenham, but Energumene traveled through the race like the good horse that he is.
“We’re going to take it, a champion chase, we’ve never had one before, but we need to take on Shishkin again and settle it once and for all.”
Envoi Allen, winner of a Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas, appeared to benefit from a wind operation ahead of his third place finish in the Champion Chase.
The eight-year-old is one of five candidates for the two-mile event and trainer Henry De Bromhead believes he’s going to Punchestown with a fighting chance.
He said: “He’s so classy, I think any trip would almost suit him, to be fair.
“He has such a high travel speed and he showed at Cheltenham that jumping and traveling at that pace is not a problem. We are really happy with him.”
The handler of Knockeen also saddles Captain Guinness, winner of three of his 11 attempts over fences and most recently seen sixth behind Fakir D’oudairies at the Marsh Chase at Aintree.
De Bromhead added: “The extra half mile at Aintree got him so we’re taking him back to two miles.
“We are delighted to be going back to Punchestown. It’s always a chance but he seems to be in good form so we’re happy to give him a whip and see.
“Like throughout the week, there’s great prize money up for grabs.”
Gordon Elliott-trained Grand Annual runner-up Andy Dufresne completes the quintet.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/horse-racing/punchestown/it-wasnt-the-chacun-pour-soi-we-know-patrick-mullins-wary-of-punchestown-task-after-cheltenham-fall-41586653.html ‘It wasn’t the Chacun Pour Soi we know’ – Patrick Mullins wary of Punchestown abandonment after Cheltenham fall