Not many horses divide opinion more at this year's Cheltenham Festival than the Willie Mullins-trained UN DE SCEAUX who is the sponsor's 4/5 favourite for tomorrow's Betway Champion Chase (3.30pm).
The eight-year-old has won 14 of his 16 career starts to date, but it is the two occasions on which he has fallen that sparks the debate.
His exuberant running style means that even the slightest of misjudgements at any fence will prove costly, which is why plenty are willing to take him on.
However, it was his latest performance at Ascot in the Grade One Clarence House Chase that leads me to believe that he is starting to mature as a horse.
Although he once again blazed a trail, he seemed to respect his fences more, measuring each and every one of them.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that both of his career falls to date have come on his seasonal reappearances when he has been at his most fresh and keen.
Dodging Bullets, Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre, the last three winners, all line-up this afternoon, however it’s hard to envisage any of them beating an on-song Un De Sceaux.
There won’t be a more rousing reception all week if Sprinter Sacre rolls back the years, but the fact remains he just isn’t quite the force he was.
Dodging Bullets was bitterly disappointing on his only start to date this season, while Sire De Grugy, although likely to run well, is a year older.
It might just be that the favourite’s stablemate Felix Yonger may prove the main threat at 14/1 with Betway, who are offering a £10 free bet if you place three bets on tomorrow’s racing.
That said, the biggest challenges lie in front of Un De Sceaux rather than behind him.
Un De Sceaux 3.30pm Cheltenham