Un De Sceaux could head to Newbury, Leopardstown, or step back up in trip for the Ascot Chase after Willie Mullins sidestepped an outing this weekend on account of the ground.
Until yesterday morning, the indications were the 11-year-old would bid for a fourth victory in tomorrow’s Clarence House Chase at Ascot and have another crack at Altior in the process after coming a gallant second in last month’s Tingle Creek Chase.
However, Mullins deemed the current good to soft ground, with no appreciable rain forecast and the possibility of frost, to be against the multiple Grade One winner.
Part-owner Colm O’Connell said yesterday: “When the going report came this morning of good to soft and there was no real rain coming, it just wasn’t going to be soft enough, and the frost is another problem.
“It just wasn’t meant to be. I wish the next generation all the best in trying to achieve four wins in the Clarence House, but unfortunately it won’t be us.
“We’ve been aiming at this race since the summer as we wanted to create history. Last year he was swimming in mud coming round Swinley Bottom, and the year before the race had to be run at Cheltenham because of frost.
“Yesterday I was walking around without a coat, it’s crazy weather.”
He added: “We’ll try to get a run into him somewhere. There’s the Game Spirit, the race (Ascot Chase) over two miles and a half miles Waiting Patiently won last year, or he could go to Leopardstown, but that means taking on stable companions which is never ideal.
“That’s racing and it’s a brave call from Willie. But that’s why in my opinion he is the best in the business, because he makes calls the rest of us don’t have the courage to make.
“He did the same when Un De Sceaux was a young horse regarding the Champion Hurdle. If he’d run him, I doubt very much we’d still be here talking about him as a Grade One horse as an 11-year-old.”
Un De Sceaux’s absence from the Clarence House means Altior will face just two rivals in the Ascot Grade One.
Colin Tizzard’s Fox Norton and the Paul Nicholls-trained Diego Du Charmil will face the mammoth task of beating Altior, who will be trying for a 17th successive victory for Nicky Henderson.
Fox Norton will be having his first run of the season, but assistant trainer Joe Tizzard believes the race was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“We haven’t been able to run him as he pulled a bit of a tendon of the back of his knee in the King George last season,” he said.
“We were never going to run him until after the new year, but thinking of Cheltenham we need to get a run or two into him beforehand.
“He’s taking a lot of work, but he still looks a little burly so we’re keen to run.
“On his best form, he’s a really good horse.”