Un De Sceaux set for Sire De Grugy clash

Un De Sceaux could bid to get back on track in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday following the confirmation stage.

Last season’s Arkle Trophy winner blotted his copybook when falling at the second-last when still travelling well in front at Leopardstown last month.

However, he remains the ante-post favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and featured amongst seven horses remaining in the Grade One over an extended two miles at Ascot.

Trainer Willie Mullins, who has also left in Felix Yonger, is keen to give Un De Sceaux a prep run before Cheltenham at either Ascot or in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on January 31.

Should Un De Sceaux line up on Saturday then he is likely to clash with Sire De Grugy.

Gary Moore’s stable star lifted this prize in 2014 on the way to achieving glory in the Champion Chase.

After a mixed last campaign, Sire De Grugy has returned to form this winter, winning the Tingle Creek at Sandown for a second time and just going down to Sprinter Sacre after an epic duel in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last month.

Moore could also be represented by Traffic Fluide, who was last seen taking minor honours in the Grade One Maghull Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April.

Sprinter Sacre was the only withdrawal at the five-day stage, with his trainer Nicky Henderson keeping in Captain Conan, who has been sidelined since fracturing his pelvis in two places during the 2014 Champion Chase won by Sprinter Sacre.

Completing the septet are Nicky Richards’ Simply Ned, runner-up in the Leopardstown race behind Flemenstar in the race in which Un De Sceaux fell, and Vibrato Valtat.

The Paul Nicholls-trained grey was three and three-quarter lengths behind Sire De Grugy at Kempton last time.

Meanwhile, Mullins is keen to learn more about Vroum Vroum Mag’s potential Cheltenham Festival target if he allows her to line up in the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

The seven-year-old is unbeaten in six starts over fences in Ireland and was just as impressive when switched back to smaller obstacles at Clonmel last month. Mullins said: “I’m very keen to bring her over for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

“She’s entered in the World Hurdle and the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival and Saturday will help us decide which route to take.”

Vroum Vroum Mag is one of 12 entries for the Ascot Grade Two contest, with Desert Queen, Aurore D’Estruval and The Govaness among her possible opponents.

Mullins has claimed the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham for the past seven years, with the brilliant Quevega winning six times in a row.

Glens Melody prevailed last March after her more illustrious stable companion Annie Power suffered a well-publicised fall at the final flight, with victory seemingly in the bag.

Annie Power has not been seen in competitive action this season due to a setback, but is on the road to recovery.

“She’s galloping again and progressing nicely, but we have no firm plans as of yet,” said Mullins.

Mullins’ Myska is set to have one more run ahead of a crack at the new Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old is currently second favourite in the ante-post betting behind her stablemate Limini after maintaining her unblemished record with victory in a Listed heat at Taunton.

Limini is also likely to be in action again before March with races such as the Solerina Mares’ Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on January 30 and the Weatherbys GSB Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown on February 19 likely to be considered for the pair.

“Myska is in really good order. She’s fine after her win in Taunton and she’s now either going to Fairyhouse on the 30th for a Grade Three or to Sandown,” said Steve Massey of owners, the Supreme Horse Racing Club.

“Willie’s got Limini as well, so I imagine one will go one way and the other horse will go for the other race.

“Myska is also entered in the Grade One Deloitte as well. We think a lot about her. She’s still a bit green so she needs another race before Cheltenham.”


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