The Notebook: Un De Sceaux gets an Arkle boost without racing

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While last week’s instalment of ‘The Notebook’ highlighted a number of veterans showing they still had the zest for racing, this week we are looking at potential stars of the future, with plenty of Cheltenham clues on show.

From Southwell to Gowran Park, from handicap sprints to staying chases, it’s a real mixed bag in this week’s five talking points.

Five furlongs are just Perfect

Pure speed. That’s what Michael Easterby’s Perfect Pasture seems to be as he racked up a fifth win at 5f at Southwell on Tuesday, maintaining his perfect record over the minimum distance.

However, upped in trip and the son of Pastoral Pursuits looks less at home, winning just two of his 11 contests over 6f and further.

Winning nicely off a mark of 97, the five-year-old could be one to target a bigger prize such as the Listed Hever Sprint Stakes at Lingfield in March.

McCain has a real progressive sort on his hand

Winner of his first three starts over hurdles, The Last Samuri was clearly held in high enough regard by Donald McCain that he pitched him in at the highest level in the Sefton Novices’ Chase.

He was found out, but came back to finish just 1/2l behind Samstown on his final hurdle start.

With that horse going on to win the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Chase over the larger obstacles, much was anticipated for the seven-year-old’s chasing career.

He duly delivered at Ayr on Wednesday, taking his tally to two from two over fences with a hard fought victory. He could be one for some smart staying handicaps in the future.

Un De Sceaux’s Arkle credentials look Smashing

When Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceaux made amends for his chase debut tumble in a beginners chase at Fairyhouse, it was an impressive victory, with the seven-year-old pulling 12l clear of his nearest rival.

And when the runner-up that day, Smashing lined up at Gowran Park on Thursday, the form book? would really be put to the test.

So when Henry De Bromhead’s charge hacked up by 23l, his previous conqueror’s Arkle form took a monumental boost.

That 7/4 for the opening day’s big novice chase may not last long, especially if he wins the Irish equivalent on Sunday.

You can watch his first chase win below…

Mullins has a live Gold Cup contender

His lacklustre performance in the Hennessy Gold Cup had many marking Djakadam as a non-stayer, but he more than put them right in the Thyestes Chase.

Despite his only real challenger departing at the final fence, Ruby Walsh looked a picture of calm on yet another Rich Ricci owned prospect.

His handler suggested a crack at the big one would have to be the cards now, with the six-year-old’s Cheltenham Gold Cup price slashed into 16/1.

Spot the easy winner through the fog (if you can!)…

Crawford’s consistent campaigner gets off the mark

A Grade 2 bumper winner Stuart Crawford’s Fine Rightly was tipped to be pretty smart when sent over obstacles.

He won two of his four outings over hurdles, but a quick switch to chasing hinted that his immediate future could be over fences.

He met two smart prospects at Navan and Naas, but nothing was stopping him in Ayr on Friday, comfortably running on to win on his first outing in a handicap over the larger obstacles off a mark of 132.

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

Think Un De Sceaux will win the Arkle? Back him to take the race using your free £25 bet and pick up £43.50 if he produces the goods!

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.