Un de Sceaux

Spotlight On The Clarence House Chase

The Clarence House Chase is a Grade One National Hunt horse race for five-year-olds and above. It is run over a distance of 2 miles at Ascot Racecourse in January.

It is one of the leading handicap chases of the season, and often includes contenders for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. There are twelve fences to be jumped in the race.

It was run as a Grade Two Handicap race but in June 2007, the BHA announced that the race would have Grade One status from 2008 onwards.

Weather conditions have always played a part in the history of the race since its introduction in 1987. The first two races had to be abandoned and the first actual running was not until 1989 when a certain Desert Orchid took the honours.

The weather played havoc again last year with Ascot being forced to abandon the whole fixture due to frozen ground. The race was transferred to Cheltenham where it had previously been run in 2005 and 2013.

Here are some trends and statistics based on the last ten renewals of the race when all horses competing were allocated 11st 7lbs.

 

Age (wins-placed-runners)

6-y-o: 1-2-5

7-y-o: 2-3-13

8-y-o: 6-0-12

9-y-o: 1-5-13

10-y-o+: 0-1-15

As you can see eight-year-olds have been very dominant over the last decade. This year there is not a single eight-year-old in the field so a new trend may start to emerge on Saturday afternoon.

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Breeding

It certainly pays to follow a French bred in this race as eight of them have won in the last ten years. That will be music to the ears of the supporters of Un De Sceaux, Speredek and San Benedeto.

 

Trainer Form

Willie Mullins sends out Un De Sceaux again who has won this race for the last two seasons. Paul Nicholls has won four of the last ten renewals of this race. Nicky Henderson has won this race only once in the same period.

 

Starting Price

Nine of the last ten winners have been priced at 5/1 or under and the favourite has been victorious seven times. You rarely get an upset in this race.

 

Runner-By-Runner Guide

Brain Power

Novice chaser Brain Power has been the subject of a week-long gamble in the Clarence House Chase. The seven-year-old has been brought into 11/4 from 8/1 last Monday morning as punters latch onto Nicky Henderson maintaining his recent run of good form.

Brain Power won as he liked on his chasing debut at Kempton in November, but looked booked for a minor placing when unseating David Mullins at the final fence in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown.

The seven-year-old, who will be having just his third run over fences on Saturday, will have to be at the absolute peak of his game if he is going to lower the colours of the favourite Un De Sceaux.

 

Kylemore Lough

Harry Fry and his team are still learning about Kylemore Lough after his disappointing start for the yard at Cheltenham in November. He made a bad error at the water jump and was pulled up before the penultimate fence by jockey Noel Fehily.

Previously trained by Kerry Lee, the nine-year-old was a progressive novice a couple of seasons ago, notching up a sequence of five wins on the spin which included defeating Outlander in a Grade One at Fairyhouse.

It would come as no surprise to see an improved performance on Saturday but he looks to have plenty to find with the favourite.

 

San Benedeto

San Benedeto is the sole representative from the Paul Nicholls stable this year, but his gelding has come up short in recent outings including a handicap race here in November when he finished behind Sir Valentino.

The Mr Vogt owned seven-year-old was runner-up in the Haldon Gold Cup previously, but he beat only one home in the Tingle Creek Chase last time out and this will be a much more demanding race for him.

Others will seriously have to underperform for this Paul Nicholls entry to score here.

 

Speredek

The seven-year-old won for the fifth time in his last six outings at Sandown last time out and connections are keen to take their chance in this small, but select, field.

He went off as the hot favourite and after going nearly flat out with Gino Trail for most of the race, he asserted after the second to last lap and strode clear to win the race by eight lengths in the end.

The Nigel Hawke trained gelding will have no issues with the going on Saturday and is likely to put it up to his rivals early, but whether he can sustain his meteoric rise through the ratings remains to be seen.

 

Un De Sceaux

Un De Sceaux bids for a third successive victory in the Clarence House Chase this weekend and it will take a brave punter to oppose him.

Willie Mullins' 10-year-old was the winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March but he drops back to just over two miles for the Grade One he has made his own in the last two years.

He made an impressive return to action with a bloodless victory in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork last month, a race that will have set him up nicely for some history making at Ascot on Saturday.

At ten-years-old he could prove vulnerable to a younger improving sort over this two mile trip but conditions will be in his favour and some of his junior rivals here have a few form questions of their own to answer.

 

Conclusion

Un De Sceaux once again ticks all the right boxes to take his third Clarence House and his odds-on price certainly reflects this.

Often small races of this nature lend themselves to seeking some value in the forecast/exacta and Kylemore Lough looks the type who could quite easily recapture his previous form under the tutelage of Harry Fry and give the favourite something to think about.

888sport recommends: Un De Sceaux/Kylemore Lough reversed f/c.

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*