Un De Sceaux lined up for bold Ayr raid
Scottish Champion Hurdle on the radar for Mullins' star
WILLIE MULLINS has raised the fascinating possibility of Un De Sceaux charting a path from Paris to the west coast of Scotland for a potential showdown with The New One and My Tent Or Yours.
The champion trainer's unbeaten six-year-old is due to tackle a two-and-a-half mile Grade Three hurdle in Auteuil this Saturday, an assignment that should be well within his range.
However, a tilt at the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on April 12 promises to be an altogether more informative event if some of the equine heavyweights on the initial list of 55 entries turn up. Nicky Henderson's My Tent Or Yours and Nigel Twiston-Davies The New One, which had their excuses when second and third respectively behind the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, are the marquee contenders for the two-mile handicap.
Crucially, if either were to take up the engagement, it would keep Un De Sceaux's weight down. My Tent Or Yours is rated 1lb higher than The New One on 168.
They are the only entries with ratings above Un De Sceaux's current mark of 159, though that figure would be subject to revision by the British handicapper.
With an array of hurdling stars like Hurricane Fly, Quevega, Annie Power and Glen's Melody to cater for, Mullins is clearly anxious to explore all options. Un De Sceaux's participation in France on Saturday will likely rule out any prospect of him stepping up in class in the Aintree Hurdle this day week.
The Ayr contest could be a viable alternative, though it remains to be seen if the proclivity for good or faster ground at the Scottish Grand National meeting would prove a deterrent for the proven mudlark.
Since 2000, the official going at the Saturday spectacular has been good on 11 occasions, good to firm twice and good to soft once, all of 10 years ago.
Un De Sceaux has pulverised his rivals on soft or heavy going in five Irish hurdle starts, though conditions were described as good to soft when he won the first of two bumpers by 20 lengths in France in 2012.
Mullins' County Hurdle runner-up Arctic Fire and his Supreme Novices' Hurdle sixth Wicklow Brave are among four others that he has put in the prestigious event, with Arnaud, Flaxen Flare and Massini's Trap other Irish-based contenders.
While a close eye will be kept on Auteuil on Saturday, there could be plenty of interesting jumps fare on offer closer to home, with Mullins' smart Arkle Trophy faller Mozoltov and Charles Byrnes' fellow Gigginstown Stud-owned Arnaud among 14 entries for a Navan novice chase that could yet be something more than its €16,000 pot suggests.
Also engaged in the two-mile-one-furlong contest is Jerry Cosgrave's deeply progressive Mount Colah, which is on a hat-trick following two impressive victories at Thurles and Leopardstown.
In the Grade Two Webster Cup, Aintree Grand National entries Bog Warrior and Colbert Station figure alongside Henry de Bromhead's recent Naas winner Days Hotel.
Paul Carberry will bid to plunder his second National triumph on Saturday week aboard Monbeg Dude. The 40-year-old, who enjoyed a famous Aintree win on his father Tommy's Bobbyjo in 1999, landed the Welsh equivalent on Michael Scudamore's dour charge in January 2013.
At Limerick on Sunday, John 'Shark' Hanlon's Hidden Cyclone could line out under top-weight in a two-mile handicap hurdle following his gallant second in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, while Don Cossack and Domination have the option of taking in a Grade Two novice chase over three miles.
Just 24 hours after riding his first winner in a yea at Fontwell, David Crosse was literally brought back to earth with a bump after suffering three broken ribs in a fall at Exeter.
The Tipperary jockey was aboard War Treaty in the opening selling hurdle when he was unshipped at the first and kicked by another horse. Screens were erected around the rider and the hurdle was omitted on the second circuit while Crosse was being treated before being taken to hospital
His agent Russ James has been told Crosse suffered rib injuries. "As far as I'm aware, he's broken three ribs and they're checking his cheekbone," James said. "He is sitting up and talking, though."