Five things we learned from the weekend racing
Un De Sceaux
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Five things we learned from the weekend racing By James Burn 4:42PM 4 DEC 2016
We look back on the lessons learned and potential implications from Saturday and Sunday's big races.
1 Sceaux spine tingling, but little danger to Douvan
Saturday's Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown lived up to its billing as one of the pre-Christmas treats of the jump season, but if Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Douvan had been looking on from his barn it is unlikely he will be too worried.
His admirable stablemate Un De Sceaux took his record to 16 wins from 21 outings when denying race specialist Sire De Grugy a third victory in Sandown's showpiece, but the fact Ar Mad, who set a blistering pace early doors, was able to close at them at the end raises doubt about the form.
Douvan, generally 4-7 for the Champion Chase, is pencilled in to return in the Kerry group Hilly Way Chase at Cork next Sunday.
2 Arkle or more for Altior?
Only a handful of firms quote Altior for the Champion Chase – he is 20-1 – but if anything happened to Douvan, diverting Saturday's Racing Post Henry VIII Novices' Chase winner would be an intriguing prospect.
It is not a play normally associated with trainer Nicky Henderson, but it is worth remembering he pitched Sprinter Sacre into open company for what is known as the Game Spirit during his novice campaign.
Altior is 7-4 for the Racing Post Arkle and again impressed at Sandown even if his jumping was big early on.
He has some engine and while Henderson stopped short of saying he is the next Sprinter Sacre, if there is one horse at Seven Barrows with the potential to be, it is the High Chaparral gelding.
3 Clouds camp can aim sky high
Lots of Grand National winners fail to win again after their Aintree heroics, but Many Clouds has now done that twice after Saturday's smooth performance in the Betfred-backed Listed Chase, in which he looked as good as ever.
Many Clouds looked in great shape winning at Aintree
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
An autumn wind operation seemed to do the trick as the nine-year-old, a brilliant jumper at the best of times, made his four rivals toil with an immaculate round.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood mentioned the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas could be the next objective for Many Clouds, whose manner of victory hinted he could have a Cheltenham Gold Cup in him, although owner Trevor Hemmings will likely have only one race in mind and a chance to emulate Red Rum by regaining the National crown is at the top of his agenda.
4 Apple's as hard as nails
Apple's Jade may not be the second coming her end-of-season strolls last term suggested she might be, but boy is she brave and eight days after being edged out in Newcastle's Fighting Fifth Hurdle the four-year-old inflicted a first Irish defeat on brilliant mare Vroum Vroum Mag in Sunday's Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Jockey Bryan Cooper called Apple's Jade "horrid tough" after her all-out success and trainer Gordon Elliott deserves plenty of credit for running.
The decision was left to him and his boldness paid off, although a Stan James Champion Hurdle campaign is unlikely, while Willie Mullins, who trains Vroum Vroum Mag, will know exactly how she stacks up with Faugheen and Annie Power – the last two winners of the Cheltenham championship.
5 O'Brien's Triumph
There is plenty of chat Colin Tizzard could saddle the first three home in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he might not be the only trainer capable of a clean sweep at the festival with Joseph O'Brien holding a strong hand in the juvenile hurdling division.
The trainer's Landofhopeandglory heads the betting for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at 7-1 and took his record since switching from the Flat to three from three with a Grade 3 strike at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
He looks the pick of the three-year-olds we have seen over hurdles this season but stablemates Housesofparliament and Sword Fighter – rated higher on the Flat – have yet to come out.
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