Cilaos Emery now third favourite for Champion Chase after Poplar Square success

The seven-year-old has been cut to 11-1 for the Grade 1 in March

Saturday, November 09, 2019
Cilaos Emery Townend

Paul Townend piloted Cilaos to victory, completing a memorable day for Mullins

Willie Mullins already has the exciting Chacun Pour Soi in his care but the inexperienced Cilaos Emery gave notice that he is a prospect to be reckoned with this season, as he strolled to an impressive success in the Grade 3 Poplar Square Chase, writes Justin O'Hanlon

The French-bred, who beat Melon in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Punchestown in 2017, was having just his second run over fences here with a sole beginners' chase victory at Gowran Park in January to his credit

Given that, and even given the fact he was getting 11lb from the front-running Grade 1-winning novice chaser Ornua, it was an impressive performance.

His jumping improved as the race developed and he strode away from Ornua after the second-last, going further clear when ridden out from the final fence. 

"He was very impressive for a horse with such little experience," said Patrick Mullins, assistant to father and trainer Willie.

"He was getting a lot of weight from Ornua, but he is a Grade 1 winner.

"We thought he might not be an easy horse to place this season with only one run over fences, so I'm not sure what the plan is," he added.

"Something like the Tingle Creek would be an awfully big ask for a horse of such little experience so I'd imagine it'll be baby steps perhaps leading to the Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas.

"This was an ideal race for him with four runners where they were well spread out and he mostly jumped great. He looks like a horse with an awful lot of ability."

The commanding manner of his victory prompted Betfair to cut the lightly raced seven-year-old to 11-1 (from 16-1) for the Champion Chase in March, while Sky Bet and Hills go bigger at 14-1.

The triumph also continued an excellent day for Mullins, who saddled a landmark first Australian winner when gifted mare True Self captured the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington this morning.

I'd imagine it'll be baby steps perhaps leading to the Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas.

- Patrick Mullins

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