Saturday 27 May 2017

Un De Sceaux ready for Ryanair task

Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old is unbeaten this season and looked in especially good order when he accounted for Uxizandre in the re-arranged Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in January. Photo credit: Getty Images
Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old is unbeaten this season and looked in especially good order when he accounted for Uxizandre in the re-arranged Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in January. Photo credit: Getty Images

Keith Hamer

Last year's Champion Chase runner-up Un De Sceaux will headline an eight-strong cast for tomorrow's Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

Willie Mullins' nine-year-old is unbeaten this season and looked in especially good order when he accounted for Uxizandre in the re-arranged Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham in January.

Uxizandre won the Ryanair two years ago and the JP McManus-owned gelding will renew rivalry with Un De Sceaux on what will be just his second start since he provided Tony McCoy with his final Festival success in March 2015.

Empire Of Dirt (Gordon Elliott) and Sub Lieutenant (Henry de ­Bromhead) carry the Gigginstown House Stud silks of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary. Alary, Aso and the Nicky ­Henderson-trained pair of Josses Hill and Vaniteux are also involved.

Unowhatimeanharry, another that carries the famous McManus colours, is one of 16 declarations for the Stayers' Hurdle on the same afternoon.

Harry Fry's inmate has won his last eight races and is likely to be sent on his way the hot favourite for the feature race on day three.

Cole Harden won the race two years ago and is back again for the Warren Greatrex team, with 2014 champion hurdler Jezki also involved.

The Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki is one of six Irish declarations for the contest, with Willie Mullins responsible for Clondaw Warrior, Nichols Canyon and Shaneshill.

Snow Falcon (Noel Meade) and Dedigout (Gordon Elliott) have also made the journey across the Irish Sea.

McCoy, meanwhile, said he was left "very honoured and flattered" as a statue was put up in his honour at Cheltenham.

The bronze figure of the retired 20-times champion jockey, which was crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferrier, was unveiled in front of racegoers yesterday.

During his long and successful career McCoy - now part of the ITV Racing team - partnered 31 winners at the Festival, which included two victories in the Gold Cup and three Champion Hurdle successes.

The Antrim native's final victory came at his last appearance at the meeting in 2015, when steering the Alan King-trained Uxizandre to glory in the Ryanair Chase.

McCoy said: "I can only say a huge thank you to Cheltenham. It was 20 years to this week when I won the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup and I had my first ride here in 1994. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have a statue put up in my honour."

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