Un De Sceaux Has Enjoyed A Remarkable Career For Willie Mullins
Yesterday at Punchestown, Un De Sceaux won his second BoyleSports Champion Chase so it looks a good time to look back at his career so far.
Having won twice in France when trained by F Foucher, Un De Sceaux was bought by the O’Connell family and transferred to the Willie Mullins stable. Early on in his career he was extremely keen and even Ruby Walsh would be a passenger on him but he soon racked up a sequence of wins in the 2013-2014 season.
Following a 16 length victory in the Grade 2 Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park in 2014 many racing fans wanted to see the unbeaten gelding contest the Champion Hurdle that year. Sadly the decision was made to take him to France instead as the stable believed it could come too soon for him in his career and they also had Hurricane Fly for the race. Un De Sceaux won twice at Auteuil to extend his unbeaten record to nine before going novice chasing the following season.
The increasingly popular star made his chasing debut at Thurles in November 2014 and was sent off 1/8 to make a winning start. During a bold front running effort and out of camera shot Un De Sceaux made a bad mistake and fell 3 out resulting in a first recorded loss for the horse. Following this run he won a beginners chase at Fairyhouse before winning a first Grade 1 in the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown in January beating Clarcam by 15 lengths. His next start would be a first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival where made most in the Arkle to win by 6 lengths at the finish.
Ruby Walsh tried his best to conserve his energy for the hill at the end and there was a brief moment when God’s Own looked a danger but Un De Sceaux powered up the hill for an impressive victory. A facile victory at Punchestown in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase followed but it was the following season when he would be tested in open company.
The Grade 1 Paddy Power “So Quick, So Easy iPhone App” Chase was selected for his reappearance in the 2015-2016 season but ended in a fall at the 2nd last when still two lengths clear travelling well. He made a quick reappearance in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot where he beat former Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy by 5 lengths. Un De Sceaux was sent off a 4/6 favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2016 but was unfortunate to meet a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre on the day.
He still battled well after the last to finish 2nd ahead of Special Tiara that day showing his fantastic attitude for the sport. Another defeat to Sprinter Sacre followed at Sandown before heading over to France to win the Prix La Barka hurdle over 2m5f and finish 6th in a Grade 1 over 3m1f when failing to get the trip.
Un De Sceaux won the Tingle Creek on his reappearance in 2016 before winning a second Clarence House Stakes, this time at Cheltenham as it was rearranged. With the Mullins stable having Douvan for the Champion Chase that year, Un De Sceaux was stepped up in trip to contest the Ryanair Chase in 2017 and produced a fantastic performance to win. Ruby Walsh tried to settle him in midfield but after the 5th fence pulled himself to the lead and put in some scintillating jumps to win by a narrowing 1 ½ lengths at the finish.
Un De Sceaux just failed to win a Punchestown on his next start but had the Good to Yielding ground as an excuse that day when Fox Norton just showed more speed after the last.
Un De Sceaux was shown to his best in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork in December 2017 when he won by 25 lengths on ground which was deemed un-raceable after that contest. A third Clarance House victory followed before Un De Sceaux slightly disappointed when trying to defend his Ryanair Chase crown at Cheltenham.
He bounced back at the Fairyhouse Festival when winning the Devenish Chase by 18 lengths (aided by a fall by Doctor Phoenix) before beating stablemate Douvan in the BoyleSports Champion Chase by nearly 4 lengths with Min further back in fourth.
This season Un De Sceaux has been lightly raced and made his reappearance in the Tingle Creek at Sandown when only finding Altior too good at the finish with Saint Calvados 15 lengths back in third. With lots of pace guaranteed in the Ryanair Chase this season, Un De Sceaux was held up in midfield and could only record a 5th placed finish. He was back to his best yesterday at Punchestown though in his ideal conditions where he beat stablemate Min comfortably by 4 lengths at the finish.
It is a travesty that Un De Sceaux has never won a Champion Chase at Cheltenham in his career but will always be remembered as a horse who was nearly unbeatable over 2 miles on soft ground.