Willie Mullins sets his sites on another of England’s prestigious Grade-1 races on Saturday, as he saddles Champion Chase favourite Un De Sceaux in Ascot’s Sodexo Clarence House Chase (3pm).
However, after he fell on his seasonal debut, the opposition will be aiming to test his jumping, and 13 stiff Ascot fences may also have a say in the outcome of the race.
There are just 5 runners set to go to post.
Un De Sceaux 8/13
His front-running style is certainly eye-catching, and there’s no getting away from the fact that the 8-year-old remains unbeaten when not falling. He demolished his rivals in last year’s Arkle, though few of those have gone on to advertise the form. He could prove he’s an absolute superstar today but, in Sire De Grugy, he does meet a horse who is much better than all the ones he’s already beaten. If you like statistics, 8-year-olds have won 4 of the last 6 renewals (other two 7-year-olds), and he’s the only 8-year-old.
Sire De Grugy 3/1
The 2014 Champion Chaser is officially rated 1lb superior to the favourite, and his second Tingle Creek win in December suggested he was back to his best, as did his close second to the equally rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre over Christmas. The ground won’t be a problem, and interesting that he also won his only course start, this race two years ago.
Vibrato Valtat 12/1
Seemingly put in his place by both Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre this season, but was beaten further by Un De Sceaux in last year’s Arkle. That form may be misleading though as the ground was too fast for him, and he’s been beaten on all 4 starts at Cheltenham. Interesting that he’s reunited with jockey Noel Fehily today, who is 2 from 2 on him, but probably not good enough.
Simply Ned 25/1
Looked like collecting his first grade-1 in Leopardstown last time, but just got pipped in the heavy ground. Would definitely prefer better ground, and has fallen short before when taking-on this class of animal.
Traffic Fluide 33/1
Highly regarded chaser, but he’s yet to show he’s anywhere near this class, and beaten both course starts. Interesting that the Moore stable saddle two runners but, as even the 5th placed horse picks-up over £3,000, I doubt it’s a tactical trick.
Un De Sceaux is the right age and could be the real deal but, as Sire De Grugy is officially the top-rated horse, is proven over course and distance and on the ground, it is Gary Moore’s runner who looks the value-bet on this occasion.
Sire De Grugy @ 3/1 (Boylesports)