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Punchestown Festival preview: Ryanair Novice Chase (18.40)

Brilliant Arkle winner Un De Sceaux is long odds-on to complete a hat-trick of Grade 1 successes in the Ryaniar Novice Chase at Punchestown today (18.40), and barring accidents should have little difficulty in doing so.

This gelding has won nine of his 10 starts since joining Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins, with his only defeat coming on his chasing debut at Thurles when he fell when well in command.

The seven-year-old made amends when cruising to a wide margin success at Fairyhouse, and followed up with a sensational 15 length success when making all to beat a high class pair in the shape of Clarcam and Gilgamboa in the Grade 1 Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Un De Sceaux was sent off the 4/6 favourite for the Arkle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival on the back of that romp, and his supporters never had an anxious moment.

The son of Denham Red made virtually all at a brisk pace, and after being driven clear after the last stayed on strongly to score readily by six lengths.

The form of the race does not look anything special as the runner-up and third home have both been beaten since, but it sets a clear standard in this line-up.

It also earned Un De Sceaux an offical rating of 168, and that gives him 18lb and upwards in hand on today’s rivals and impossible to oppose.

In reality a clear round should be enough for Un De Sceaux to win with ease, and Smashing looks the obvious one to chase him him for forecast backers.

The Henry de Bromhead trained gelding has twiced finished behind Un De Sceaux this season, but ran really well last time out when a 2 3/4 length third to Gilgamboa in a Grade 1 contest over 2m 4f at Fairyhouse.

Smashing held every chance until being headed on the run-in and being unable to find any extra close home, and the drop back to 2m looks sure to suit.

With the yard in good form, the six-year-old looks sure to go well and is the one most likely to capitalise if the red-hot favourite fails to live up to expectations.