A look at the incredible career of Un de Sceaux – Ryanair Favourite looking for his 3rd Cheltenham Festival victory
With the jumping season’s premier fixture headlining March there is a lot to look forward to for racing fans with many looking for the top betting tips for Cheltenham. One horse that has continued to be relatively under-valued over the years is the tough and reliable Un de Sceaux. He is now a multiple Cheltenham Festival winner and simply a winning machine for his connections. So how has Un de Sceaux’s career progressed as he looks to land the Ryanair Chase for a second year running? The latest Cheltenham Festival betting with Betfair makes him the strong 2/1 favourite.
Owned by Edward O’Connell the now 10-year-old Un de Sceaux started his career with two successes in France which promoted the move to Willie Mullins’ in Ireland. He further extended his winning run to nine victories and was fast becoming one of the most exciting young horses around. Following a break he fell on his re-appearance in November, 2014 which seems to be one of the only ways this horse has been defeated throughout his career. This did not dent his confidence and following two comprehensive victories he headed to the Cheltenham Festival as a strong 4/6 favourite to land the Arkle Chase.
Part of Mullins’ banker day one team at the 2015 festival he put in a jaw dropping performance in defeating the consistent God’s Own by six lengths. The following year he again re-appeared and followed up with top level form. This, however, was not to be his season as he continued to come up against the resurgent force in Sprinter Sacre. His second place to Sprinter in the Queen Mother Champion Chase was one of the toughest performances of a horse in defeat you will see as he battled on for second place. The video below shows this race which will remain in racing fans’ hearts for a long time in seeing the great Sprinter Sacre return to the pinnacle of the sport.
He then travelled to Sandown and again ran gallantly for second behind Sprinter before a victory in the Prix la Barka (Grade 2) in Auteuil. Following a break, he returned with victory in the Tingle Creek at Sandown defeating a previous Queen Mother Champion Chase winner in Sire de Grugy by one length showing so much heart following a bad mistake at the last.
The rescheduled Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham was next on the agenda for the star as he again put in an incredible performance to destroy a top field with only the 2015 Ryanair Chase winner Uxizandre finishing within five lengths. Many of Un de Sceaux’s wins have been achieved on soft ground throughout his career so connections were worried, going into the 2017 Ryanair Chase, with the forecast for good ground. He had continued to drift in the market on the lead up to the race hitting 7/2 in places but following the performances of his stablemates he was bet back into a solid 7/4 favourite on the off.
From the off Un de Sceaux put in some stunning jumps racing far too keenly and he was five lengths up by the 8th fence. He took off mid race, ridden by Ruby Walsh, and with his stamina in doubt many people thought he would get passed coming to the last. However, what epitomises the horse is his toughness and this was displayed in spades as he battled on gamely up the run-in always holding the fast-finishing Sub Lieutenant. Considering how hard he pulled through the race in running away with Ruby, this performance could just be his greatest in his career. His was given a RPR mark of 170 for this run which falls behind his 174 mark for his previous victory.
(UN DE SCEAUX AND RUBY WALSH FOLLOWING THEIR 2017 RYANAIR CHASE VICTORY)
Moving into the current season and now 10 years of age many people began to question whether he would be the same horse. He drifted heavily in the market on his seasonal debut on bottomless ground but hacked up in second gear beating Top Gamble by 25 lengths in the Hilly Way Chase. He then contested Ascot’s Clarence House Chase and again destroyed a high-class field becoming the first horse to win the race on three separate occasions.
Following this victory his connections branded him the Iron Horse as he again put his rivals to the sword. His trainer said ”to do that three years running on two different tracks on that ground is stunning, he relaxes now-a-days and loves his racing”. Un de Sceaux now heads back to Cheltenham looking for his third Festival victory and to retain his 2017 Ryanair title. It will take some performance to defeat him and he must go down as one of Ireland’s top prospects over the week. His incredible racing career now stands at 20 victories and 3 seconds in his 26 starts under rules. The video below shows the stunning performance he put in to land his third Clarence House Chase in January 2018.