Sunday 18 March 2018

Un De Sceaux set for Ryanair after record Ascot success

Un De Sceaux ridden by Paul Townend clears the last fence. Photo credit: Julian Herbert/PA Wire
Un De Sceaux ridden by Paul Townend clears the last fence. Photo credit: Julian Herbert/PA Wire

Marcus Armytage

Un De Sceaux, one of the few Irish-trained horses to cross the Irish Sea at this time of year, became the first horse to win the Clarence House Chase three times when he beat Speredek seven lengths in the Ascot mud.

It was his 20th win and his eighth Grade One.

Though 35 friends and relations of Cork owner Eddie O'Connell made the journey, trainer Willie Mullins remained at home, but this is a trip Un De Sceaux could almost make on his own now.

One of the benefits of being second jockey to Mullins behind Ruby Walsh is that, just occasionally, when Walsh is injured, Paul Townend comes in for an armchair ride like Un De Sceaux.

Paying tribute to the 10-year-old and his tearaway nature, Townend said: "He's remarkable. The first day he came in the yard he was hard on himself - he's hard on himself every day at home and in every race. There aren't many who can lead him and stay going."

O'Connell said: "Any time you make history it's emotional. It was a magnificent performance. I'm stuck for words having seen him settle so well for a horse who normally front-runs.


"We have only three horses in training. We've been in racing 20 years and if we're in another 20 we'll never have another horse like this. We know it won't last forever.

"When we bought him he was a mad four-year-old from France. Now he's superstar with a cult following. I expect he'll go back to Cheltenham for the Ryanair now."

At halfway in the race, outsider Speredek had a 12-length lead, but Un De Sceaux has so much class he had closed him right down going to the second-last, where Brain Power, the novice which had tried to follow the ­winner through, took a heavy fall.

Nicky Henderson reported Brain Power to be suffering from a breathing issue before he fell.

He said: "He is fine. Nico de Boinville said jumping the first fence up the hill, he started gurgling. He has never made a noise before. It is disappointing as I thought he jumped great and travelled great."

Un De Sceaux was not the only one to make a race his own on Saturday. For a horse only just short of being good enough to win a Champion Hurdle, The New One has been a good money-spinner and, already a millionaire, he landed Haydock's Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial for the fourth year in succession.

After he was headed at the last by Ch'tibello, which had stalked him up the home straight, it looked all over but Nigel Twiston-Davies's outstanding 10-year-old was having none of it and fought back to win by half a length. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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