Un De Sceaux thrashes field on seasonal bow at Cork
Nine-year-old makes light work of heavy ground before final two races abandoned
Un De Sceaux made a winning return at Cork. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Un De Sceaux made light of the exhausting conditions to trounce his rivals in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
The free-running nine-year-old showed his class with an impressive performance on his first start for 229 days.
Kerry Lee’s British raider Top Gamble got to within a couple of lengths of Un De Sceaux at one stage, but the 4-6 favourite, trained by Willie Mullins, pulled away again and was 25 lengths clear at the line under David Mullins.
Top Gamble was a worthy second, with Alisier D’Irlande 50 lengths further back in third place and Clarcam last of the four finishers. The other runner, Ballyoisin, took a tired fall two out but eventually rose to his feet, apparently none the worse.
Un De Sceaux was cut to 5-1 favourite from 13-2 for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in March with Betfair, and to 12-1 from 16s for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Grand National-winning rider Mullins said: “That’s the first time I’ve ridden something like him and for a horse that goes so hard, he is so clever and sharp. Your’e just a pure passenger on him and he does everything himself.
“A horse jumped into me at the first, but it was straightforward enough after that. He is so sure of himself and it is a pleasure to ride him. He ploughed away through the conditions and jumped really well — long or short he was well able.
“I rode him for the first time on Tuesday, I’ve got to look at him in the past but never thought I’d get to ride him.
“I remember his first maiden hurdle — I was walking the track to ride in the bumper and saw him and said ‘wow, what’s that!’. I’m very thankful to Willie and the owners for getting the ride.”
Loves the ground
Mullins was at Punchestown, where he said: “Un De Sceaux galloped away and had everything in his favour today. The ground conditions really suited him and you couldn’t ask for anything more. He loves that ground.
“I’ve no real plans at the moment where we will go next.”
Later Shattered Love got back to winning ways by making all in the Kerry Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase.
Elliott’s six-year-old had won her first two starts over the bigger obstacle before finishing a close second to her stablemate Jury Duty in the Grade Two Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown three weeks ago.
However, she had no trouble picking up this Grade Three prize in the hands of Jack Kennedy.
The 2-5 favourite was always in control and asserted from the second-last fence to come home 10 lengths clear of La Bella Vida, with Montana Belle in third.
Elliott’s assistant Davy Condon said: “She was very good again. Obviously the trip, going back to two miles, was a concern although the ground helped.
“Jack said she had no problem handling the ground and never came out of third gear. She quickened away from the last and won well.
“She can only beat what’s in front of her, but she was impressive. We think she’s a Grade One mare, but she might have to take on the geldings to get that win.”
The last two races were abandoned after an inspection of the hurdles course found conditions to be unfit for racing.