THE horse that most racegoers will be looking forward to seeing at Cheltenham this afternoon is Willie Mullin’s breathtaking novice chaser Un De Sceaux in the Racing Post Arkle (2.05pm).
Not since Sprinter Sacre demolished his rivals in this race three years ago has a more exciting horse been sent over the larger obstacles.
Unbeaten in seven hurdle starts for Mullins prior to this season, the master trainer resisted the temptation to send him over to the Festival last year.
Always regarded as a future chaser, Un De Sceaux was kept under wraps in Ireland and France last term, before a rather inauspicious start to his chasing career when tipping up at Thurles in November.
His subsequent two performances have been electrifying, most notably his Irish Arkle success when he brushed aside the high class Clarcam and Gilgamboa as if they were handicappers. As every man and his dog has already said, if he stays on his feet, he has to win, but at 4/7 with Betway I’m not prepared to take that risk.
This is the first time Un De Sceaux will have experienced anything like the Festival and he can be very excitable. There is also the very real possibility that he could fall. Betway are refunding all fallers at the Festival as a free bet up to £25 so if you want to back him do so with them.
Paul Nicholls has won this contest twice, but you have to go back 12 years for his last success, and it’s not been a lucky race for the British champ.
However, I’ve been very impressed with VIBRATO VALTAT on his last few starts and, at 11/2 with Paddy Power, he looks an each-way bet to nothing. The Irish firm are also refunding bets up to £50 if Un De Sceaux wins, so the Nicholls runner simply has to be the play.
Although my selection has been beaten twice at Cheltenham this season, I think that is more of a coincidence than anything else. Sporting Index offer him in a match bet with Josses Hill and I will be buying him at 4 lengths as Nicky Henderson’s runner is a dodgy jumper.
VIBRATO VALTAT e/w 2.05pm Cheltenham