Saturday 23 February 2019

'Sceaux' camp weigh up options after skipping Ascot

Penhill. Photo: Darren Staples
Penhill. Photo: Darren Staples

Thomas Kelly

Un De Sceaux could head to Newbury, Leopardstown or step back up in trip for the Ascot Chase after Willie Mullins sidestepped an outing this weekend on account of the ground.

Indications were the 11-year-old would bid for a fourth victory in tomorrow's Clarence House Chase at Ascot and have another crack at Altior after coming a gallant second in last month's Tingle Creek Chase.

However, Mullins deemed the current good to soft ground, with no rain forecast and the possibility of frost, to be against his veteran.

Part-owner Colm O'Connell said: "It just wasn't meant to be. I wish the next generation all the best in trying to achieve four wins in the Clarence House, but unfortunately it won't be us.

"We've been aiming at this since the summer as we wanted to create history.

"Last year he was swimming in mud coming round Swinley Bottom, and the year before the race had to be run at Cheltenham because of frost. Yesterday I was walking around without a coat, it's crazy weather."

He added: "We'll try to get a run into him somewhere. There's the Game Spirit, the race (Ascot Chase) over two-and-a-half miles Waiting Patiently won last year, or he could go to Leopardstown, but that means taking on stable companions which is never ideal."

The Mullins-trained Penhill is one of a record number of Irish entries among the 51 possibles as he bids to retain his Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 14.

The champion trainer is responsible for 11 of the 23 Irish-trained horses, including 2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen.

Penhill would be going for a third successive win at the Festival having won the Albert Bartlett in 2017 and claimed last year's Stayers' Hurdle on his seasonal bow. Coral Cup winner Bleu Berry, Bachasson, Benie Des Dieux and Melon also feature among the Closutton entries.

Last year's runner-up Supasundae could bid for revenge while Gordon Elliott has eight in the initial list, including Apple's Jade, which is likely to run in the Mares' Hurdle, and Samcro, currently on the easy list.

Leading the home defence is Emma Lavelle's Long Walk Hurdle winner Paisley Park, while last year's beaten favourite Sam Spinner is on a retrieval mission after almost refusing in the same race.

Irish Independent

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