Trained in Ireland by the all-conquering Willie Mullins, Chacun Pour Soir was an absentee last year when Politologue, owned by John Hales, lit up Cheltenham with a mesmerising round of jumping under Harry Skelton.
With Skelton committed to riding Nube Negra for his brother Dan, it sees Cobden partner Politologue and look to atone for their defeat in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot when outstayed by First Flow who reopposes.
And while Chacun Pour Soi is regarded as one of the Festival bankers for Mullins and jockey Paul Townend who won the meeting’s curtain-raiser on Appreciate It, Cobden, 22, did win the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase on Politologue in December 2017.
He also knows the Irish favourite will have to be at his best to defeat his mount who is trained by Paul Nicholls. “Hannah who rides him every day is very pleased with him,” Cobden wrote on his Great British Racing blog.
“I saw him going up the gallop on Monday morning, he looked fit and strong. Chacun Pour Soi looks the one to beat and Altior doesn’t run so that gives us one less thing to worry about.
“Politologue is the sort of horse who goes out and gives his absolute best every time. You can’t go into a Champion Chase and be scared of one horse, you’ve got to concentrate on your own race.
“We know that he’ll give his best and if anyone doesn’t bring their A-game then he’ll be there to capitalise.”
Cobden has also learned from what was a chastening experience at Ascot when Politologue and the aforementioned First Flow took each other on from a long way out.
“I’ll be positive in the way I ride him without forcing him. In his last race in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, I think we went out a bit too hard out in front and First Flow took him on which gave him an advantage,” said the rider.
“In these two-mile chases, there’s a very fine line between going the right speed and taking them along too quick. Chacun Pour Soi has been very impressive in Ireland but he hasn’t been to Cheltenham, it’s new for him and a slight unknown quantity which gives the race an added dimension.”
Yet, while the pressure is on Chacun Pour Soi who runs in the colours of Rich and Susannah Ricci, it’s Cobden who carries the weight of expectation in the opening Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle when he partners Bravesmangame – another of the week’s leading fancies.
The horse won the three-mile Grade One Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury on his last start and runs in the colours of John Dance, who enjoyed so much success on the Flat with the now retired Laurens, and Bryan Drew.
Bravemansgame has been compared by his trainer Nicholls to Denman, the 2018 Gold Cup winner, and Cobden will look to exploit his stamina over this shorter trip of two and a half miles.
“He’s had a tremendous year, I would say he’s the best two and half mile novice hurdler in the UK and by a good distance too,” he added. “We just don’t know yet how he will measure up with the Irish. I certainly wouldn’t swap him for any other horse. The Challow win was pretty flawless.”
The Cross Country race is also likely to see dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll, a four-time Festival winner, make his Cheltenham swansong. A four-time Festival winner, he’s also been withdrawn from next month’s Aintree race.
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