Un De Sceaux is likely to bid for a historic third victory in next month's Clarence House Chase at Ascot following his dominant comeback victory at Cork on Sunday.
The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old travelled and jumped with his trademark enthusiasm throughout the Hilly Way Chase and came home 25 lengths clear of Kerry Lee's British challenger Top Gamble. It was a thrilling success for locally-based owners the O'Connell family, who are now eyeing another trip across the Irish Sea.
Colm O'Connell, who owns Un De Sceaux with his father, Edward, said: "It was lovely to win the race my father sponsored for a long time. We had a great day and a great night. The horse was super on the day. His record on soft or heavy ground over two miles is phenomenal. "It's a bit strange really as you'd imagine any sort of athlete that runs in those conditions would get tired, but he just ploughs through it."
Un De Sceaux was an odds-on favourite for what his first start outside of Grade One company over fences in almost three years and O'Connell admitted he was as much relieved as he was delighted.
He said: "When you're running in Grade Ones they're always tough and then when you go back to a Grade Two or a Grade Three there's always pressure as you're expected to win. Kerry Lee's horse that was second is a good horse. It's never easy when you've got the Grade One penalty and you're giving the weight away, so for him to do that and win by 25 lengths was a fair performance."
Un De Sceaux ran at Cork instead of defending his crown in the previous day's Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, with Mullins having planned on running Douvan in that race before ruling him out on Thursday. Politologue caused a minor surprise in winning the Sandown feature, but connections of Un De Sceaux have no regrets about sidestepping the two-mile Grade One.
"It's Willie's call at the end of the day. He has his own reasons and we never put any pressure on him or tell him where we should go. What's the point in paying him training fees and then telling him what to do? He's a genius at what he does," O'Connell continued.
"The winner of the Tingle Creek is a good horse. He'd already won a Haldon Gold Cup and now he's gone and won a Tingle Creek. Maybe we'll meet him in the Clarence House in Ascot. Un De Sceaux would be going for three in a row in the race and no horse has ever done that, so that's probably where we'll go. He can enjoy his Christmas dinner now and we'll see how we go in the new year."
Looking further ahead O'Connell already has one eye on what will be Un De Sceaux's fourth appearance at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The French import has won the Arkle Trophy and the Ryanair Chase at Prestbury Park, with a runner-up finish behind the mighty Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase sandwiched in between.
O'Connell said: "It's all about those four days in March. I don't know which race he'll go for at this stage, but I do know I'll start doing my rain dance from the middle of February!"