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Sceaux simple as Mullins 'iron horse' strolls to third straight success

Un De Sceaux has run and jumped his rivals to submission in the course of 20 wins, nearly all gained from the front, but when another rival tried to take on that mantle, the reigning Ryanair champion showed you cannot outboss the boss.

With four to jump, the enterprisingly ridden Speredek was still eight lengths up on the field with Paul Townend, on Un De Sceaux, yet to show his hand.

However the complexion of the race changed from the next where the Willie Mullins-trained challenger loomed large to take up the running at the second-last, and had the better of Brain Power when that one came down, to stride to a record-breaking third win in the Grade 1 Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase.

The O'Connell family's pride and joy has finished first or second in 23 of his 26 races, a record that stands comparison with any of his superstar stablemates, and with this victory – his eighth at Grade 1 level – he becomes a millionaire on career earnings.

Mullins, speaking from Navan, said: "He is an iron horse. He takes his training very seriously every morning. To win that race for three years running on two different tracks takes some doing.

"He looks like he is racing a lot more relaxed nowadays, which means we can ride him differently so we are very happy with that. He's usually there to be shot at making the running, but we thought there would be a few front-runners in there today so Paul said he would be happy to let them go on if they wanted to. Sure enough there was a front-runner so that suited us."

Townend never feared that Speredek would get away as Un De Sceaux, the 4-9 favourite, beat the 16-1 outsider by seven lengths.

Townend said: "You would rather be bossing the race yourself. Un De Sceaux goes a fair gallop and there isn't too many that will lead him to that extent and stay going.

"I was always happy enough that the horse in front was going to stop. It's proper testing ground and we didn't hang around. There was no hiding place, it was a true run race. It's a Grade 1 so it should be.

"He was a bit big at one or two early on but you would rather that than not giving them enough respect. It's hard work jumping out of that ground as well with the gallop we were going. He's done what he had to do today."

Un De Sceaux was to cut to 7-2 favourite from 4-1 with Coral to defend his Ryanair title at Cheltenham, but the option of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, for which he is 12-1, will be kept open.

"I doubt he will run before Cheltenham," said Mullins "I would be happy enough that the Ryanair is the race for him at the moment but let's see what happens with the other horses first. Certainly when you see what he did in the Ryanair last year, I would be happy enough to go back there."

The O'Connells, at Ascot with an entourage of 37, will leave the decisions to Mullins. "It's a special day, a magnificent performance for a such a front-runner," said Colm O'Connell. "We bought him as a mad French horse as a four-year-old and what he's turned to be is a superstar. He has a cult following. Cheltenham here we come."

Brain Power was three lengths down on the winner when he crashed out and trainer Nicky Henderson suggested he could require his wind being treated.

"He jumped great and travelled great but then Nico said after jumping the first fence up the hill he started gargling," he said. "He was short of oxygen which is why he dropped out.

"He has never made a murmur before now. There is no point scoping him now, so we'll look at him on Monday and see what we find."

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