A Plus Tard inflicted a surprise defeat on Chacun Pour Soi in the Paddy’s Rewards Club “Loyalty’s Dead, Live For Rewards” Chase at Leopardstown.
Chacun Pour Soi was unbeaten in two previous outings for Willie Mullins – and having claimed the notable scalp of Defi Du Seuil at the Punchestown Festival, he was the 8-15 favourite for his seasonal reappearance.
With his stable companions Cadmium and Great Field ensuring a strong gallop in front, Chacun Pour Soi travelled kindly in behind under Paul Townend and moved ominously to the lead after jumping the second fence from home.
However, Rachael Blackmore covered the move aboard the Henry de Bromhead-trained Cheltenham Festival winner A Plus Tard – who finished second in last month’s Fortria Chase at Navan – and the pair settled down to fight it out in the straight.
There was little to choose between the pair jumping the final obstacle, but with the benefit of a recent outing, A Plus Tard (4-1) finished the stronger and passed the post almost four lengths to the good.
RaceBets cut the winner to 4-1 from 33-1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March, a race his trainer has previously won with Sizing Europe (2011) and Special Tiara (2017), and 7-1 from 16-1 for the Ryanair Chase.
De Bromhead said: “He had some great runs last year as a novice and I was happy with his first run back this season. We knew he’d come on plenty for it, but the favourite was so impressive last year it looked like he’d be difficult to beat over this trip.
“I wasn’t convinced this was our trip, but the softened ground helped and he jumped great.
“We’ll probably enter him now in the Champion Chase, but in my head he was always going for the Ryanair.
“I think ground would come into play as regards plans (for Cheltenham). He’ll probably come back for the two-mile race here in February.”
It was a second Grade One at the meeting for De Bromhead and Blackmore after the victory of Notebook on the opening day.
De Bromhead added: “Rachael always seems to be in the right place at the right time and she just keeps riding winners. She’s a pleasure to work with and wants it as much as all of us.
“We’re very lucky to have her.”