Un De Sceaux looks like a machine and should win the Arkle with ease
The term ‘Irish banker’ is already being applied to UN DE SCEAUX for the Arkle Trophy and it’s certainly hard to see past Willie Mullins’ exciting novice.
If there were any doubts about his ability to beat top horses, the seven-year-old blew them away with a truly devastating front-running display in Sunday’s Arkle Novice Chase, his final run before Cheltenham. Taking on proven performers in Clarcam and Gilgamboa, he jumped beautifully, travelled like a machine and quickened clear after the second last to win by an eased down 15 lengths from Clarcam, who ran up to his best, with Gilgamboa a further half length away in third.
It’s easy to get carried away by such an impressive display but this was as good as it looked and his new Racing Post rating of 171 might even underestimate him. That rating already eclipses the ten-year average of 165 for Arkle winners and it would have been good enough to land all bar one of the last 20 renewals, with the exception being the 2012 version won by Sprinter Sacre, who ran to 176. And who’s to say he can’t match or even better that with his trainer saying after the race: “He’s a bit stronger this year but is not down to his best racing weight yet.”
If you were being picky you could point to the fact he was sweating a bit at the start and given he’s such a buzzy horse it’s possible the Cheltenham preliminaries could light him up even more. However, anyone taking him on is effectively backing him to fall and while he did hit the deck at Thurles on his chase debut in November, he seems to have learned from that and has been pretty foot perfect on his last two starts. With the race likely to cut up, he could well get a ‘freebie’ in the lead and should any of his rivals get close enough to challenge we now know he can battle too.
As for the horses he beat at Leopardstown, it’s hard to see how they can turn the tables and it would be no surprise to see Clarcam skip Cheltenham for Aintree, while Gilgamboa might be better off running in the JLT. That longer race could well syphon off several other of his potential rivals, including stablemate Vautour and Paul Nicholls’ Ptit Zig. That leave Josses Hill as the leading British contender but you wouldn’t to back him after his laboured effort at Doncaster last time. He might improve for better ground but that certainly wouldn’t inconvenience the favourite given he has a lovely low action.
It’s a struggle to find one who could mount a challenge, although Top Gamble has impressed in rattling off a hat-trick this term, jumping like a buck in the process. The fact he hails from the relatively small stable of Richard Lee helps his price no end, with 40/1 on offer at William Hill. The worry with him is that he too likes to go from the front and if he tries to match strides with the favourite, it can only end up one way. In contrast, Vibrato Valtat likes to be ridden off the pace and its not hard to see him running into a place at the business end, albeit several lengths behind Un De Sceaux.
He could be one to back when the inevitable ‘without the favourite’ market goes up but at this stage there can only be one recommendation. Irish banker indeed!
Un De Sceaux @ 10/11 Boylesports