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The Ruby Walsh column: Un De Sceaux's enthusiasm shines through

Tue 16 Jan 2018

The Racing UK jockey ambassador gives us the latest on Un De Sceaux ahead of the Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday, his thoughts on Yorkhill's possible run in the Champion Chase and looks back at the weekend wins of Getabird and Invitation Only.

By Ruby Walsh

Un De Sceaux:

He is in super form – he worked really well on Tuesday morning ahead of his run in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

Last year he won the rescheduled race at Cheltenham and it was a bit of a struggle for him. He is in really good form at the moment and his comeback run in the Hilly Way he destroyed horses.

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If you guys get the rain that we are getting here in Ireland then the ground will really suit him.

People say he is tough on the racecourse but his enthusiasm for exercise, his enthusiasm for racing – he is incredible.

It was very wet for the last couple of days here and the gallop was quite testing on Tuesday morning and just watching him plough through it – he just loves it.

He is always going forward and anxious to get on with it. He is not a hot horse that sweats he just likes to get going on the gallops and is a joy to watch.

I think Brain Power has it to do.

The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase did not suit him at Sandown last month but I am a believer in form and to me he was running a similar race to that in the Champion Hurdle in March.

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He was way behind Sceau Royal in the Champion Hurdle that day and Sceau Royal was going to beat him again in the Henry VIII before Brain Power unseated David Mullins.

His best form last season was two runs in valuable handicaps but at Graded level he did not compete at Cheltenham. On form, and not potential, he has a bit to find.

Yorkhill:

2017 Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Thursday - Cheltenham Racecourse

He would be a hell of a ride over two miles over fences at Cheltenham. The Champion Chase will be a huge drop back in trip for him and a very different experience.

He has won a two-mile beginners chase but that does not shed any light on whether he will be able to compete at Grade One level at two miles. It will be a different ball game for him.

Tolworth Hurdle winners tend to be stayers rather than speed horses but to win a Champion Chase you have to have stamina as well.

He was brilliant when winning the JLT Novices' Chase in March, he was brilliant in the Ballymore Hurdle the previous year and we know he handles Cheltenham. Ultimately if he arrives in the Champion Chase he will be a brilliant ride – he is a very good horse.

Faugheen:

Leopardstown Christmas Festival - Day Four - Leopardstown Racecourse

I watched him this morning and he went a bit quicker than cantering. He looked 100% and seems to be very well. Willie [Mullins] described has run in the Ryanair Hurdle as ‘an inexplicable performance’. I don’t know, either. We have to hope it was just a one-off.

Black Hercules:

Black Hercules has an entry in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles on Sunday. I don’t know if he is going to run - we also have American Tom and Ballycasey in it - but he’s not far off if he doesn’t.

He hasn’t run since the race last year, and we thought he was very lacklustre in it on the day. With hindsight, running Sizing John to 14 lengths might not have been that lacklustre after all! He picked up a niggling injury after that so we’ll see.

Getabird:

Punchestown Racecourse

I was very impressed with Getabird’s win in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle as I wasn’t sure he had the speed to beat Mengali Khan over two miles on the inside track at Punchstown.

I thought he might outstay him, but I didn’t think he had the turn of foot that he had. I thought when he quickened off the bend and got the horses at it, he would grind it out and win. But at the back of the last Patrick [Mullins] gave him a smack and he kicked through the gears and sprinted to the line.

I had it in my own mind that he needed two and half miles at least, but at the weekend he showed he would be more than capable of running at two miles.

He has improved a lot from last season. His bumper form is not spectacular and his hurdle form is improving.

He is a very different horse from the likes of Douvan, Min and Mikael d'Haguenet.

Mikael had a huge amount of experience in France and Douvan and Min were very quick. As for Vautour, it’s not very fair to compare to any horse to him.

A lot will depend on the opposition and what is the best race for him come March. He looks a horse who could run in either the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Invitation Only:

Invitation Only

Invitation Only impressed me by the way he went to the line when winning the Grade Three at Punchestown at the weekend.

He went along in front, he jumped reasonably well and he quickened up away from the second last when Gordon Elliott’s horse The Storyteller made a mistake.

He is a horse we always thought a lot of. I thought going to Navan last season he could have beaten Death Duty and Monalee and he was third on the day and we were a bit disappointed with him.

His season never picked up from there over hurdles. He is a horse that we thought was never that slow, yet he showed real stamina on Saturday. He opened more doors than he closed with that run. The RSA Novices’ Chase or JLT Novices’ Chase would be the options open to him.

Ultimately where he goes is based on the opposition – which race looks weakest. Some horses don’t stay or need a trip and have to run in the race that suits them, but a horse like Invitation Only has options open to him.

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