Saturday Ascot Review: Ryanair Chase a likely target for Un De Sceaux

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As the betting suggested, the 4-9 market leader Un De Sceaux won Ascot’s Grade 1 Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase for a record third time on Saturday afternoon. While the ten-year-old is used to bossing the opposition into submission from the front on this occasion the son of Denham Red was content to let Nigel Hawke’s improving chaser Speredek set the tempo. But once the Willie Mullins-trained gelding started closing the eight length advantage held by Sean Bowen’s mount with four to jump win number twenty for Un De Sceaux was never really in doubt.

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Chief market rival Brain Power’s lack of fencing experience told when the gelding took a crashing fall at the second-last when looking well held by the winner, although rider Nico de Boinville reported that his mount may have a wind problem after gurgling during the race, a situation which could well rule the seven-year-old out of the Cheltenham Festival. With national hunt racing’s four-day extravaganza in mind Un De Sceaux is almost certain to be given entries in both the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair, with the latter the preferred option according to his trainer.

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Winner of the race last year when beating Sub Lieutenant by a length and a half the O’Connell family’s pride and joy ( an entourage of 37 were present at Ascot on Saturday ) was cut into a best price 7-2 with Ladbrokes and Coral to record back-to-back victories in the 2m 5f Grade 1 contest on Thursday 15th March. In the unlikely event of testing conditions prevailing at the festival connections may well aim the soft-ground specialist at the shorter race for which he can be backed at 12-1 with both of those bookmakers or 6-1 ( non-runner-no-bet ) with Skybet.

The big betting race on the card, the Ascot Spring Garden Show Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, provided up and coming claimer James Bowen with yet another major Saturday victory following Raz De Maree in the Welsh Grand National and William Henry in Kempton’s Lanzarote Hurdle last weekend. The Nicky Henderson-trained Jenkins was the horse in question this time, travelling well for his young rider before staying on from the last to repel the challenges of Air Horse One and stablemate Burbank without ever looking in danger of defeat. Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle looks the next target for the reformed character for which he can be backed at a top price 12-1 with Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and the sponsor.

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