Front-running Un De Sceaux wins the Ryanair

Filed on 17 Mar 2017 @ 12:19

The enigma that is Un De Sceaux produced a sublime front-running performance to make most in the Grade One Ryanair Chase to provide Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh with a quickfire double on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, following Yorkhill's JLT Novices' Chase victory.

Second in last year's Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, the well-backed 7/4 favourite was making a belated step up in trip to two miles and five furlongs for the first time over fences, but despite a couple of hairy leaps, jumped on the whole with real authority under Walsh.

Well clear entering the home straight, the son of Denham Red produced two flawless jumps at the final two fences and responded well to Walsh's urgings up the Cheltenham hill to win by an eased down length and a half from Henry de Bromhead's Sub Lieutenant (8/1) in second, with a further six lengths back to 40/1 shot Aso, trained by Venetia Williams, in third.

A delighted Mullins, registering his 50th Festival victory, just the second trainer to reach that landmark figure (Nicky Henderson, 58), said: "He is a super horse - that's what he is. He is an iron horse. He does that every day at home and my heart is in my mouth every morning watching him come up the gallops.

"That is a real racehorse there. To do what he does every day, I mean Ruby is only half in control half the time and you always wonder whether he will get home, but he just seems to find reserves from I don't know where. He is just everything you would want in a racehorse. He is brave, strong and sound. Probably coming up in trip now which made more use of stamina was a help as yes he is certainly very good on soft ground. I wouldn't want to go much further with him but he can go back to two miles.

"He never completely drops the bridle. Between fences I was hoping Ruby would be able to drop it for two or three strides to let the horse get his breath back and then go on again. The horse has a huge constitution."

Mullins added: "It was a fantastic race to win and Michael [O'Leary] and everyone were very gracious. But as I say in racing, you can't gloat over beating someone because they will come out in the next race and beat you. I just try to win - it is not about who you beat. I didn't realise it was my 50th winner at The Festival. That is nice to know."

"I think Ruby sort of managed to settle him in front because he is a funny horse. You give him two strides and he fills up and goes away again. He's an absolute iron horse - he's like that on the gallops every day and I am afraid for my life watching him coming up them every day.

"He wears his heart on his sleeve every day and I am wondering how he can do that all the years he has been in training - to stay sound and not get worn out. Really, I am training to train him not to get worn out and to keep enjoying it. He is just so hard on himself.

"I was watching and thinking that, every time he needed a good jump, he put one in. That's going to take something out of the others to have to get to him on the flat. He put in some spectacular jumps and then, when he came to the last, it was an extraordinary jump when he just took off. Ruby said that, if he hadn't have taken off, he would have ended up in the Hunter's Lodge because he would have been throw so far clear. He saved his best jump for the last.

"Once he got over the third last and down into the dip, I wasn't worried about him staying. I looked at the others and I thought there was nothing there unless he does something wrong - it was his to lose at that stage. He put in two fantastic jumps at the last two."

As for the future, Mullins added: "I'll probably go to Punchestown with him. I'm not sure what race he will go for definitely but he could go for the two-mile Champion Chase there.

Filed on 17 Mar 2017 @ 12:19