HORSE RACING FIXTURES AND RESULTS
HORSE RACING FEATURE
Punchestown Day 1 Preview: Sceau far so good
We preview the Grade 1 Boylesports Champion Chase on day one of the 2017 Punchestown Festival.
Sprinter Sacre was the last Queen Mother Champion Chase winner to follow up in the Irish equivalent back in 2013 and with this year’s winner Special Tiara seemingly set for a clash with Arkle winner Altior at Sandown instead, and Douvan missing through injury, the path has cleared for Ryanair winner Un de Sceaux to return to the two-mile division.
Un de Sceaux produced an excellent performance, the third-best on Timeform ratings for a winner of the Ryanair Chase, when defeating Sub Lieutenant by one-and-a-half lengths last month. Willie Mullins’ star arrives here fresh having swerved the Melling Chase at Aintree at the beginning of the month and – despite being only 1 lb ahead of Fox Norton on weight-adjusted ratings – he looks the one to beat.
Un de Sceaux’s absence in the Melling provided an ideal opportunity for Fox Norton to build on his excellent second in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, and he won his first Grade 1 in emphatic fashion. Whilst it won’t be Fox Norton’s first trip to Punchestown – he finished third in the Champion 4-Y-O Hurdle here in 2014 – he arrives as a completely different proposition this time around and rates as a big danger to the favourite with improvement still a possibility.