Walsh’s 0-39 Cheltenham record a concern for Un De Sceaux

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One reliable bet at the Cheltenham Festival over the last five years has surprisingly been to back against every horse ridden by Ruby Walsh over fences.

Walsh may have been the top jockey at six of the last seven festivals, but his victories have been restricted to hurdles contests, rather than those over the larger obstacles.

In fact, Walsh has ridden over fences 39 times across the past five festivals with a win count of zero and just three placed finishers.

This is despite riding at least two horses every festival at a price of 4/1 or less in a chase contest.

Here are some of Walsh’s biggest flops in this period:

Ruby-Walsh

So which of the well fancied Walsh mounts are going to leave punters disappointed in 2015? Here are three that could well go off at 4/1 or shorter on race day and on all known history should be opposed.

Un De Sceaux (4/6 to win the Arkle)

Interestingly, Un De Sceaux was sent off at a slightly weaker price of 8/11 to triumph in the Irish Arkle, but such was his dominance to win the 3-runner contest by 15 lengths, he has been massively shortened to land the Cheltenham equivalent.

It is true that the seven-year-old looks a couple of rungs above his leading Arkle opponents, but he has already fallen on one of his three chase starts and is unproven on anything faster than soft ground.

Only two winning favourites in 11 years in the Arkle doesn’t bode especially well for Un De Sceaux’s prospects either.

Vautour (3/1 to win the JLT Novices’ Chase)

With Vautour being a stablemate with the same owner as Un De Sceaux, it is highly unlikely that both will be in opposition at Cheltenham.

Although he hasn’t fallen as yet, Vautour’s jumping is not as fluent and this is one reason that he may step up to 2m4f for the JLT Novices’ Chase, where the slower race pace should make jumping slightly easier.

His last victory was over 2m3f too, suggesting that connections are happy to step him up in trip.

In the four runnings of the JLT to date, the best finish from a favourite is only second.

Champagne Fever (8/1 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase)

Champagne Fever is a tricky horse to place at present. He is a two-time Festival winner, but there are doubts as to what is his best trip.

He doesn’t seem to stay 3m+, which rules out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

His best asset is certainly his jumping and with the Champion Chase ante-post field currently consisting of a host of ifs, buts and maybes, connections may be considering taking their chance over the minimum 2m.

Given he races prominently, Champagne Fever could also be tasked with going out hard to test those with a greater finishing kick in a similar strategy to that which saw him win the 2013 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over 2m.

The problem for him is that if either Sprinter Sacre or Sire De Grugy are close to their best on Champion Chase day, their extra class should see them home.

Furthermore, the likes of Special Tiara and Uxizandre would certainly not allow Champagne Fever to dictate the tempo from the front.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.