Mullins plays down chances of winning trainers’ title
Un De Sceaux hot favourite to make Ascot history in Clarence House Chase
Willie Mullins: trails Gordon Elliott by over half a million euro in the trainers’ championship. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Mullins eventually overhauled his rival by less than €200,000 in an epic battle for last season’s championship that went down to the final day of the season.
Elliott has again set the title pace this season and with a lead of over €500,000 he is rated at 4-6 favourite by Powers to deny Mullins (11-10) an 11th championship in a row.
“We’ll keep at it but it’s looking tough at the minute. It’s a different narrative this year, and a different challenge,” said Mullins who insisted on Monday he is the underdog in this title race.
“We’ve never been this far behind before so it’s going to be tough,” he added.
Mullins’s immediate big-race focus will be on this Saturday’s Royal Salute Whiskey Clarence House Chase at Ascot where Un De Sceaux will try to become the first horse to win the Grade One contest three times.
Un De Sceaux won the race at Cheltenham in 2017 when it was switched there a week after Ascot had been deemed unraceable.
The dual-Cheltenham festival winner’s weekend opposition could include the novice Brain Power and the former Kerry Lee-trained Kylemore Lough who is now with Harry Fry.
Un De Sceaux, winner of the Hilly Way at Cork on his last start, was made a 4-7 favourite with some firms after Monday’s forfeit stage.
One possible opponent is the in-form handicapper Speredek whose trainer Nigel Hawke reported: “We’re looking at it. Obviously there’s one horse [Un De Sceaux] in there but we’ve got to consider it.
“It’s a likely small field, the horse is fit and well, there’s prizemoney down to sixth and he’s only got so many options. You should never be afraid of just one horse.”