One 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.’
Tomorrow sees the start of #TheFestival
Flashback to 2017 when Un De Sceaux reigned supreme in the Ryanair Chase 🙌
Who are you backing this year? pic.twitter.com/0r2LP1vZNF
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 11, 2019
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….
|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|