The Grade 1 Clarence House Chase (3.35, Saturday 20 January), now sponsored by Royal Salute Whiskey, is run over 2 Miles and 167 Yards. Desert Orchid was a 10-year-old when taking the first running in 1989, since when it has been won by some of the best ever Champion Chasers such as Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded and Viking Flagship. Only two horses have even won the race twice, Master Minded and Un De Sceaux, and the latter bids to become the first horse to win the race three times this year.
The last 10 winners have been aged 6 to 9
The Lowest-rated winner in the last decade was rated 159
The highest-rated winner in the last decade was rated 186
3 of the last 9 winners have been trained by Paul Nicholls
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh have teamed-up to win the last two renewals
SP’s of the last 10 winners have ranged from 1/5 to 12/1
Un De Sceaux
Last year’s Ryanair Chase winner at the Cheltenham Festival has only failed to win 3 of his 18 completed starts, and proved on his seasonal debut that age isn’t catching up with him yet at the age of 10. He’s vulnerable on genuine good ground at this trip but, on soft or heavy ground, he usually gallops his rivals into submission by maintaining a pace most horses simply can’t keep going at on in those conditions.
Only had two runs over fences, but was very impressive on his debut over fences at Kempton. Didn’t jump as well at Sandown next time, where he looked booked for second place behind Sceau Royal until he fell at the last. Excellent winner over a handicap hurdle when last seen at Ascot but, as fell just short of top-class over hurdles, he could struggle to beat Un De Sceaux on ground that should be more in the Irish-challenger’s favour.
Won a Grade 1 Chase as a Novice in Ireland on heavy ground, but has failed to build on that performances recently. Should relish the soft ground though and, though he’s unlikely to trouble the favourite, he should pick-up some valuable prize money for connections.
Trained Paul Nicholls has an excellent record in this race, and this one looked set for a decent season after chasing home stablemate Politologue on his seasonal debut. Not so good since though, including when spurning a decent chance in a course and distance handicap since, and shouldn’t be troubling the best of these off level-weights.
Likeable handicapper who has won his last 5 starts over the larger obstacles, as well as running well here over hurdles to be second to a well-handicapped rival. Connections could ruin his handicap mark if he gets to close to much higher-rated rivals, but should again pick up some prize money even if well-beaten.
Brain Power’s hurdles rating gives him a theoretical chance of running Un De Sceaux close, but the softening ground will be very much in the favourite’s favour. Kylemore Lough, San Benedeto and Speredek shouldn’t be troubling the judge unless the front two in the market fail to finish.