Un De Sceaux – Mullins set to swerve Champion Hurdle?
Un De Sceaux’s 16-length victory at Gowran Park has sparked a debate about whether or not the unbeaten gelding should take his chance in the Champion Hurdle next month. The victory was routine enough, taking his aggregate winning margin to just short of 100 lengths in three starts this winter.
However, far from triggering a rush to commit to the Champion Hurdle, connections now seem to regard it as too much too soon. There were one or two signs of inexperience at the weekend, notably when he spooked at crossing the path across the track, but nothing to worry jockey Ruby Walsh unduly.
Willie Mullins already has Hurricane Fly lined up to defend his crown in the big race and is still to decide whether or not to let Annie Power join him. The problem with Un De Sceaux is that they simply do not know how good he might be.
The Gowran Park race was his first at Grade 2 level but the opposition was frightened off, leaving him to coast home ahead of stable companion Midnight Game. The runner-up is a 140 horse and Un De Sceaux is currently rated 156, a figure that entitles him to run in the Champion but gives him the best part of a stone to make up on the market leaders.
Ruby Walsh has been singing the horse’s praises all season but admits that he hasn’t got a clue how good he is. He also believes that he can stay beyond two miles so his future may not necessarily be confined to the minimum trip.
The six-year-old is yet to race beyond two miles and the fact that Mullins entered him for the Champion Hurdle shows how good they think he might be. Had he destroyed a credible Champion contender in one of his races, Mullins would have little option but to send him to the festival but he is clearly now in two minds.