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Tom Weekes

Tom Weekes

Willie is taken by Chacun as Ricci tips his hat to a Champion

Chacun Pour SoiChacun Pour Soi
© Photo Healy Racing

Rich Ricci failed in his bid to fight back the tears for retired friend Ruby Walsh at Punchestown today as the leading owner reflected on his Chacun Pour Soi s sensational win in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase.

The ex-French raced seven year old gelding returned from a whopping 1,089 days absence to win in taking style on debut for Mullins at Naas on March and today faced two recent Cheltenham festival winners, JLT winner Defi Du Seuil and Arkle victor/stablemate Duc Des Genievres

Ruby Walsh's retirement from the saddle yesterday meant Robbie Power was entrusted with the ride on Chacun Pour Soi and in the race, Power expertly guided the inexperienced gelding into contention from the fourth last fence. From the second last, Chacun Pour Soi went clear of Defi Du Seuil and in the end beat that rival by four and a quarter lengths with all of 16 lengths back to Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres.

The performance was a special one for Ricci, who hasn't raced as many horses in recent times and was also criticised for his handling of folded company BetBright, for whom he acted as executive chairman, in March.

Following the race the emotional owner of racing greats Douvan, Vautour, Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag stated “I'm delighted he has shown what he is capable of but I was hoping Ruby would ride him.

“Ruby is magic and for my nickel he is the greatest of all time. Like most people I am very sad he is leaving but that is selfish a she is very happy and I'm delighted to see him looking so well — he looked so much younger yesterday when he announced his retirement.

“I'm happy for him but it won't be the same for me.”

For his part winning trainer Willie Mullins declared “I think we’ve seen a real racehorse.

“He’s had lots of niggly little problems which kept him off for three years and he came right around Naas time and he won his beginners chase very well.

“He’s all the time shown me he could be a real racehorse. To turn in today with a JLT winner on one side and an Arkle winner on the other side and Robbie said he was cantering. That shows us that he’s a real horse for the future.

“I said to Robbie ride him around the outside and don’t get involved in a race with any of the other horses because he’s so few runs but if he’s as good as we think he is god knows what will happen.

“I just thought about getting here today and haven’t thought any further than that. He’s just matured now and hopefully it will get better next year. I won’t make any plans now about where he’ll start next year.”

He added “you get a lot of disappointments with horses but we always thought he could be a Grade 1 horse. It’s a bit unorthodox coming out in March to win a beginners chase and then throwing him straight into a Grade 1 race.

“I hadn’t thought about what distance he might want (in the future) but I didn’t look on him as a Champion Chase horse. He’ll gallop and he’ll stay all day, and soft ground would be no problem to him.

“We might keep him to two miles next year but there will have to be lots of thinking done.”

Paddy Power Bookmaker later slashed Chacun Pour Soi's odds for the 2020 Champion Chase to 5/1, from 25/1.

Quotes from Alan Magee