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Un De Sceaux Retired: A Sad End for Willie Mullins’ Champion Chaser

Horse Stable BlockOne of the most superior chasers of the modern era has been forced to retire less than a fortnight shy of a trip to his favourite stomping ground.

Un De Sceaux, the brilliant chaser, has been sent to put his hooves up in his stable after suffering ligament damage in training on Thursday.

That rules the 12-year-old out of a return trip to the Cheltenham Festival, where he had twice reigned supreme in the Arkle and the Ryanair Chase, and Mullins has confirmed that the horse will now be retired.

“Unfortunately, Un De Sceaux has been retired,” the Irish trainer confirmed. “He worked on Thursday and worked well but he wasn’t right afterwards. Our vet checked him out this morning and confirmed that he had suffered a suspensory ligament injury.

“He was a fantastic racehorse first over hurdles and then over fences and gave us and his owners, the O’Connell family, many great days. He’s 12 but was still showing all the enthusiasm he displayed throughout his career.”

As has been the case with many of Mullins’ best horses, it was Ruby Walsh who more often than not took the ride on Un De Sceaux.

Together they won 15 times, including a number of Grade 1 affairs, and it was Walsh who was on board when the bay got his first win at Punchestown back in 2013.

“I remember the first time he won for us, a maiden hurdle at Punchestown, I had broken my nose in the previous race,” Walsh recalled. “My face was covered in blood, but I just had to ride him in the next.

“It was like being back in pony club on the way down to the start. I couldn’t hold on to him. I just had to keep doing circle after circle with him. And, you know what, that freakish enthusiasm never left him. He had it from the very start right up until the other day.”

A Horse for the Big Occasion

All in all, Un De Sceaux won 23 of his 34 starts, only tailing away towards the end of his career.

He was a six-time participant at the Cheltenham Festival and a two-time winner there, and by the end he had won an outstanding ten Grade 1 races.

His novice chasing year in 2015 was a revelation, with the French horse triumphing in the Arkle – where he powered up the hill to defeat the lively God’s Own, the Arkle Novice Chase and the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Un De Sceaux may have come up dry at Cheltenham in 2016, but there was still plenty for Mullins and his connections to celebrate. The first of three Clarence House victories set the tone, ad there was a trip home to win the Prix La Barka as well as an outstanding run to claim the Tingle Creek Chase, where he outlasted the fantastic Sire De Grugy.

A return to the winning enclosure at Cheltenham came in 2017, when he closed out victory in the Ryanair Chase, with Walsh reflecting ‘we hadn’t had a good start to the festival that year and we needed him to come good, and he didn’t let us down.’

More top-grade glory followed in the Punchestown Champion Chase in 2018, where a win over Douvan saw his rating rise to 173.

And then, in 2019, came one final glimpse of Un De Sceaux’s brilliance: successfully defending his Champion Chase title with an unstoppable show of front running.

His legacy is assured….

Date Course Race Grade Position Winnings
18th Jan 2020 Ascot Clarence House Chase Grade 1 2/5 £32k
7th Dec 2019 Sandown Tingle Creek Grade 1 2/8 £32k
30th Apr 2019 Punchestown Champion Chase Grade 1 1/6 €177k
14th Mar 2019 Cheltenham Ryanair Chase Grade 1 5/12 £9k
8th Dec 2018 Sandown Tingle Creek Grade 1 2/4 £32k
24th Apr 2018 Punchestown Champion Chase Grade 1 1/9 €162k
2nd Apr 2018 Fairyhouse Devenish Chase Grade 2 1/7 €47k
15th Mar 2018 Cheltenham Ryanair Chase Grade 1 2/6 £76k
20th Jan 2018 Ascot Clarence House Chase Grade 1 1/5 £86k
10th Dec 2017 Cork Hilly Way Chase Grade 2 1/5 €35k
25th April 2017 Punchestown Champion Chase Grade 1 2/8 €48k
16th Mar 2017 Cheltenham Ryanair Chase Grade 1 1/8 £171k
28th Jan 2017 Ascot Clarence House Chase Grade 1 1/7 £40k
3rd Dec 2016 Sandown Tingle Creek Grade 1 1/6 £84k
12th Jun 2016 Auteuil Grand Course de Haies Grade 1 6/12 £10k
21st May 2016 Auteuil Prix la Barka Grade 2 1/13 £58k
23rd April Sandown Celebration Chase Grade 1 2/6 £27k
16th March 2016 Cheltenham Champion Chase Grade 1 2/10 £75k
23rd Jan 2016 Ascot Clarence House Chase Grade 1 1/5 £71k
27th Dec 2015 Leopardstown Paddy Power Chase Grade 1 F/6 £0
30th April 2015 Punchestown Ryanair Novice Chase Grade 1 1/5 €69k
10th Mar 2015 Cheltenham Arkle Chase Grade 1 1/11 £85k
25th Jan 2015 Leopardstown Arkle Novice Chase Grade 1 1/3 €48k
20th Dec 2014 Fairyhouse Beginners Chase 1/16 €8k
27th Nov 2014 Thurles Beginners Chase F/16 £0
26th Apr 2014 Auteuil Prix Leon Rambaud Grade 2 1/7 £65k
29th Mar 2014 Auteuil Prix Hypothese Grade 3 1/10 £51k
15th Feb 2014 Gowran Park Red Mills Trial Hurdle Grade 2 1/4 €26k
12th Jan 2014 Navan Navan Hurdle 1/3 €13k
22 Dec 2013 Thurles Horse & Jockey Hurdle 1/3 €11k
26th Apr 2013 Punchestown Novice Hurdle 1/10 €15k
20th Feb 2013 Punchestown Maiden Hurdle 1/22 €5k
14th Oct 2012 Saint-Brieuc Prix De L’lle D’Hoedic 1/4 £4k
19th Feb 2012 Machecoul Prix Prince D’Avril 1/3 £4k