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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019
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Un De Sceaux misses out on clash against Altior in Grade 1 race at Ascot

The Willie Mullins-trained horse has won the Clarence House Chase on three occasions.

Un De Sceaux with Patrick Mullins on board, en route to victory at Punchestown last year.
Un De Sceaux with Patrick Mullins on board, en route to victory at Punchestown last year.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

CHELTENHAM CHAMPION CHASE title holder Altior will not have to face one of his main rivals on Saturday at Ascot as Un De Sceaux will not feature in the Grade 1 race.

The final declarations were made this morning for Saturday’s Matchbook Clarence House Chase and the omission of Un De Sceaux, a winner of this race at Ascot in 2016 and 2018, a notable talking point. 

Concerns over the ground ruled out Un De Sceaux, who also triumphed in 2017 when the race was switched to Cheltenham.

“When the going report came this morning of good to soft and there was no real rain coming, it just wasn’t going to be soft enough, and the frost is another problem,” part-owner Colm O’Connell told Racing TV.

“It just wasn’t meant to be. I wish the next generation all the best in trying to achieve four wins in the Clarence House, but unfortunately it won’t be us.

“We’ve been aiming at this race since the summer as we wanted to create history.”

It leaves just a field of three with Altior to face the Paul Nicholls-trained Diego Du Charmil with Harry Cobden aboard and Colin Tizzard’s Fox Norton that will be partnered by Robbie Power.

Altior, a winner at the last three Cheltenham festivals including last year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, will be the overwhelming favourite to triumph for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville.

This is set to be Altior’s last race before Cheltenham after a hectic recent schedule that saw wins in December at Sandown and Kempton.

“I thought we could do this as it’s a Grade 1, and then he’s got a nice break until Cheltenham,” remarked Henderson to the Racing Post on Monday.

“He doesn’t need a race, it’s just he’s there for racing, and there’s a Grade 1 race there.”

Saturday’s three runners have all been entered in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on 13 March, as has Un De Sceaux.

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Fintan O'Toole

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