Un De Sceaux defends Champion Chase crown with sparkling Punchestown performance

Willie Mullins’ popular veteran too good for favourite Min

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Un De Sceaux produced another tremendous front-running display to successfully defend his crown in the BoyleSports Champion Chase at Punchestown.

The popular veteran was a brilliant winner of the two-mile contest last season and had run just twice since – giving Altior a real race in the Tingle Creek at Sandown before finishing fifth in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

He was an 11-4 chance to strike gold on his return to action, with stablemate Min the 8-13 favourite to follow up his devastating victory in the JLT Chase at Aintree three and a half weeks ago.

Un De Sceaux was soon bowling along at the head of affairs under Paul Townend, with Min always his closest pursuer in the hands of Ruby Walsh.

Min attempted to close the gap leaving the back straight, but was untidy at the fence before the home turn and it was soon obvious he would struggle to get on terms – with Un De Sceaux showing no signs of stopping.

The 11-year-old safely negotiated the final two fences and was ultimately well on top as he passed the post four lengths to the good.

Un De Sceaux was recording his 23rd career victory and his 10th at Grade One level.

Mullins said: “It was an incredible performance for an 11-year-old in a race like that – I think he’s probably older than the two hunt horses that led him in!

“It’s unbelievable the energy he has and he comes out with that every morning. I’ve never had a horse with his enthusiasm – he just loves it.

“Paul thought he was dead underneath him at the start, but the minute he faced him for the tape, he came alive. He said he was a passenger for three-quarters of the way, but that’s a great feeling for a jockey – being on a machine like that and jumping so well.

“Un De Sceaux has come here a fresh horse compared to Min. Min had a very hard race in Aintree and maybe he needs an extra half-mile at this stage of his career.”

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