Sceaux puts in impressive show
Un De Sceaux made amends for falling on his chasing debut last month with an impressive no-nonsense victory at Fairyhouse on another good day for Willie Mullins.
The six-year-old blotted an otherwise impeccable copybook at Thurles as he crashed out three fences from home when seemingly in supreme control, and he was sent off the 1-5 favourite to put the record straight in the two-mile Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.
Ruby Walsh predictably set off in front and built up a commanding lead as Un De Sceaux jumped with trademark enthusiasm from flag-fall, having only the eventual r unner-up Smashing in the same ballpark, and it could hardly have been considered a contest as the market leader surged to victory by 12 lengths.
Mullins, who went on to a four-timer, said: "He had a scare at the first but he improved his jumping after and was a lot more sure at them. That probably frightened him and steadied him up. He took more notice of his fences after.
"I don't know where he'll go now - it's a bit close to Christmas. I think there is a winners race at Naas on January 4, but that might be a bit soon also.
"I might wait to the middle of January. He's so hard on himself in races so I won't rush him back to the track. He's a grand horse in the stables but in his races he's very very keen."
RaceBets quote Un De Sceaux at 7-2 from 9-2 for the Arkle at Cheltenham, behind stablemate Vautour at 11-4.
There was a swift double for Mullins and Walsh when Val De Ferbet made a winning fencing debut in the Promote Your Business At Fairyhouse In 2015 Beginners Chase.
Prominent all the way, he led two out, where nearest pursuer Thunder And Roses fell, leaving the way clear for a three-and-a-quarter-length victory over 2-1 favourite Noble Emperor.
Mullins said of the 3-1 winner: "It was a very good performance. He jumped like a handicapper and was gaining lengths at his fences. H e'll have to go up in grade now. I was thinking he was more of a three-mile horse, but after today's performance I think he could come back in trip if a nice race presents itself."
There was a reverse for the all-conquering team as the odds-on Uradel had to settle for fourth in the Book Online At fairyhouse.ie 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, which went the way of 5-1 newcomer Thunder Zone.
The Gordon Elliott-trained winner joined long-timer leader Uradel at the second-last and soon asserted going to the final flight, seeing off R ing Chief by three lengths under Kevin Sexton.
The handler said: " He doesn't show a lot at home and I'd say he likes that soft ground. I'm not sure how strong a race it was, but he did the job nicely. He'll come on a little bit with his jumping. He's in at Leopardstown next week in all those races. The juveniles don't look the strongest, so it wouldn't be a big surprise if he turned out again."
Normal service for Mullins and Walsh resumed as French import Arbre De Vie made a winning start in the Fairyhouse Membership 2015 Maiden Hurdle.
Walsh sat just off the pace in third before leading three out, going clear of Catalaunian Fields and maintaining that advantage to the line to reward those who sent him off the 2-5 favourite.
Mullins said: "He's more of a stayer. He gallops and jumps. I'll probably go out further in trip with him and he might go for a two-mile-six or something when we are ready to see him back. He looks like a staying chaser. It's all staying in his pedigree."
The trainer completed a four-timer when expensive purchase Stone Hard (4-7 favourite) took charge going to the final furlong in the concluding bumper and powered clear to win by three and three-quarter lengths in the hands of Patrick Mullins.
Mullins snr said: "He's a real big chasing type and has a great cruising speed. He'll probably stick to bumpers this year. He doesn't do anything flashy, but he gallops all day. That performance was good enough for me to get an entry (for Cheltenham). Patrick said he was idling but he was in control the whole time and had a lot in the tank."