Un De Sceaux: front-runner set for another clash with Sprinter Sacre
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
WILLIE MULLINS is set to parachute in his superstar chaser Un De Sceaux at Sandown on Saturday in a bid to bolster his challenge for the British trainers’ title.
A second showdown between the trailblazing two-miler and his Cheltenham Festival conqueror Sprinter Sacre looks likely to be a bonus feature of Mullins’ battle to be champion jumps trainer, with rival Paul Nicholls stressing “every penny counts” in the title race.
Four winners at Ayr on Saturday swept Nicholls back into the lead in his bid to top the British trainers’ standings for the tenth time, with another four-timer at Wincanton on Sunday leaving him £43,160 in front.
Mullins could take the unusual step of sending runners to Perth, Warwick and Taunton in an attempt to claw back the deficit, but it will be events on the season’s final day at Sandown that will determine if the Irish champion can become the first from his country to take the trainers’ crown in Britain since Vincent O’Brien 62 years ago.
Un De Sceaux had been an odds-on favourite for the Punchestown festival’s opening day highlight next Tuesday, the BoyleSports Champion Chase, but on Sunday Mullins revealed Sandown’s £71,187-to-the-winner Grade 1 Celebration Chase was now his likely target.
“Un De Sceaux will probably run at Sandown – that’s the plan at the moment,” he said.
Outstanding mare Vroum Vroum Mag has already been earmarked for the bet365 Select Hurdle, which has a first prize of £28,475, while Sandown racegoers will be yearning to see the name of Vautour in the entry list for the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase, also worth £28,475 to the winner.
An arguably more obvious contender for that race would be Vautour’s nearest Ryanair Chase victim Valseur Lido, the property of Gigginstown House Stud, poised to become British champion owner despite having won only six races and possessing no horses trained outside Ireland.
Gigginstown and Mullins could also team up with third-fence Scottish Grand National faller Measureofmydreams in the £84,405-to-the-winner bet365 Gold Cup – in which Nicholls has the sponsor’s heavily backed 8-1 favourite Southfield Theatre.
Read more in Monday’s Racing Post or download the iPad edition from 8pm on Sunday
var $facebookBlock = $(‘#facebook’);