/ Racing

Un De Sceaux sizzles in Navan feature

Updated: Sunday, 12 Jan 2014 16:49 | Comments

Un De Sceaux was 1-12 favourite to keep his unbeaten record
Un De Sceaux was 1-12 favourite to keep his unbeaten record

Champion Hurdle dark horse Un De Sceaux predictably proved a different class to his two opponents in the Follow Navan On Facebook Hurdle.

Willie Mullins' French recruit made a big impression when winning on his first two Irish starts at Punchestown last season and galloped a couple of rivals into submission when making a winning return at Thurles last month.

With last season's Fred Winter winner Flaxen Flare a significant non-runner, Un De Sceaux was the 1-12 favourite to keep his unbeaten record intact and did so without breaking sweat.

Sent straight to the head of affairs as usual by Ruby Walsh, the six-year-old set a fierce gallop, with 143-rated hurdler Foildubh, better known as a chaser, doing his level best to keep up.

However, he was back-pedalling by the time Un De Sceaux rounded the home turn and the odds-on shot negotiated the remaining obstacles to score by 53 lengths with his head in his chest.

Foildubh was so tired that he eventually finished a distant last of three, with 104-rated mare Akatara filling the runner-up spot.

Walsh said: "He goes a tremendous gallop. From the last hurdle down the back to the first hurdle in the straight he's maintaining a serious gallop.

"I couldn't believe when I looked at the back of the third-last how far back Paul (Carberry, on Foildubh) was.

"He wears his heart on his sleeve, he's a very good horse and he's obviously going the right way.

"If he was to turn up in the Champion Hurdle, I don't think The New One would need a pacemaker!"

Mullins conceded it was likely Un De Sceaux would end up in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, but that he has a long way to go to reach the same level as his dual Champion Hurdle hero, Hurricane Fly.

Mullins said: "I'm just looking at where Foildubh finished. He tried to go with him (Un De Sceaux) and a horse rated way below him passed him (Akatara). He just completely choked. Our fellow killed him trying to go the pace.

"Our horse was more settled today than I've ever seen him" - Willie Mullins

"He seemed to take the stuffing out of Foildubh and Foildubh is not a bad horse. He beat Rubi Ball last time and he's a decent horse.

"Our horse was more settled today than I've ever seen him. I don't think he jumped as well as he can, probably because he was going that bit slower."

Asked about future targets, Mullins said: "Ruby just said maybe the Red Mills Hurdle in Gowran – that's an option. I'm going to have a look around and see where I can go. The Red Mills in Gowran time-wise is the right one.

"If he goes to Cheltenham he'll be entered in the Champion Hurdle. I don't see any other race for him there, but he's got to improve a stone to be near Hurricane Fly.

"I think his French form is on good ground. With his style of running, good ground should be better - it should make it easier for him.

"He's one we're looking forward to all the time."

Aklan was a classy stayer on the Flat when with John Oxx and made a successful start to his new career when returning from a 505-day lay-off to take the 2014 Navan Membership Maiden Hurdle.

The grey (9-10 favourite) wasn't always foot-perfect, but he cruised up to take the lead jumping the second-last and wasn't extended in scoring by nine lengths as both Mullins and Walsh initiated a treble.

The jockey's third victory came on Tony Martin's heavily backed 7-4 favourite Gallant Oscar, who cruised up to the lead at the last in the Meath Handicap Hurdle but had to dig deep to resist the determined challenge of Drive On Locky by a head.

Mullins completed his own treble when point-to-point scorer Milsean (4-5 favourite) romped away with the Trim (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race by eight lengths in the hands of the trainer's son Patrick.

Noel Meade's course bumper winner Wounded Warrior (1-2 favourite) made a highly satisfactory jumps debut when he eased up to join issue at the last flight in the www.navanracecourse.ie Maiden Hurdle and forged two and three-quarter lengths clear under Bryan Cooper.

Terence O'Brien's She's Got Grit (11-4 favourite) picked up a nice pot in the Foxrock Handicap Chase, responding to Adrian Heskin's every call to get the better of Orpheus Valley by half a length, while Harry Rogers' Irish Thistle (Davy Russell, 2-1) was handed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase after Mad Brian unseated at the last.

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