We've had a tiny bit of drizzle and it's forecast to stay quite breezy today, so as it stands those should be the conditions for racing." - Simon Claisse
The ground's plenty dry enough, he's the highest-rated horse in training, that's helped me make the decision and I won't be changing my mind now," said Cooper.
"It wasn't an easy decision, I wouldn't have waited this long if it was," he added. "If you get it wrong you'd be kicking yourself for six months, but Gordon has him in top shape and now we go out to prove all the doubters wrong who say he doesn't handle Cheltenham."
But if Un De Sceaux is to become another Arkle winner to successfully step up to Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase level, he will need to break some hearts along the way. The last three winners of this race all come back for more and two of them – Sprinter Sacre and Sire de Grugy – have Un De Sceaux as their second biggest danger, with the passing blur of time their greatest impediment.For sure, there will be grown men claiming there’s something in their weeping eye should Nicky Henderson add another sweet melody to his festival catalogue with a victory for Sprinter Sacre.
Who will forget that long look over his shoulder Barry Geraghty took between the last two fences in the 2013 race? Or the way Jamie Moore steered Sire De Grugy between horses in the 2014 Champion Chase like a motorbike around Brands Hatch.But while the magic of Cheltenham stands defiantly still, time is as giddy as a candy-filled toddler and, like the Evil Queen’s Magic Mirror in Snow White, Cheltenham’s ultimate test will find the truth and tell it.
He's an exciting horse. He was very good at the festival last year and again at Ascot last time. He’s very honest
If he returns to his best he’s in with a chance but it’s no secret we’ve been against the clock. I think we’ll definitely see a much improved effort but it looks like a tough shout to say he’ll win.
He can do it again, I’m not saying he will. It’s a great race and it will be interesting up front all the way. I can’t see it being a crawl. It would be a fantastic comeback if he could do it. It would be dream time.
Think of all the other races as being track events at the Olympics. The best of the best are there and competing. It is prestigious and there is elation and back page commentary both before and after. And then somehow, one of those "Tough Mudder" races has been included in the programme. They all have to shamble round a course where no one quite knows which way they are meant to be going, crossing ever more ridiculous obstacles and generally not enjoying themselves. None of them will ever be Olympic athletes but, somehow, they have managed to get themselves a gig in the Olympic stadium. They think the crowd is looking on in admiration and respect. In fact everyone is going to the loo (preferably not in a pint glass) or getting another drink. Those who are watching don't know what the heck is going on either.
He's a very, very good horse - RW
Yanworth took a tour of the Cotswolds and could not afford to give so much ground away to Yorkhill who maintains his winning run in stunning style despite looking all at sea in the closing stages. Yet another one to throw into the Champion Hurdle mix. Could we have a mini-Mullins Champion Hurdle maybe at Leopardstown next February?
Last year's Neptune was run at a dawdle, it was the slowest winning topspeed since at least 2003 (my records only go back to 2004). Faugheen did a 4.54 on good and only got a topspeed of 138 (the average since 2004 is 135) but Simonsig did a 4.59 on ground also called good and got a 155, so it's very difficult to infer too much. I'd say Faugheen was probably on much quicker ground and Simonsig's time is a better market of true good ground.