Published 30th January
SCEAU ROYAL was so good on his seasonal reappearance here that he may yet prove himself a serious contender for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Alan King’s gelding made light of a ten-month layoff to beat race-fit Simply Ned with something to spare - even accounting for the 3lb he received - and that horse franked the form big style when getting the better of Footpad at Leopardstown over Christmas.
The last-named of course won last year’s Arkle in the absence of the selection, who was forced to miss the Festival due to injury, and is generally second favourite for this race ahead of his scheduled next run at the Dublin festival.
All of which makes Sceau Royal a bit of value at around twice the price of Willie Mullins’ charge in a market dominated by the mighty Altior, who is unbeaten in 12 starts over fences.
Alan King’s gelding made light of a ten-month layoff to beat race-fit Simply Ned with something to spare and that horse franked the form big style when getting the better of Footpad at Leopardstown over Christmas.
To make the case you have to forgive the 7yo’s poor run behind Nicky Henderson’s reigning champion in the Tingle Creek last time and while King was inclined to blame the soft ground, perhaps the relatively quick turnaround also had something to do with it.
Sceau Royal certainly appeared to run flat, being a spent force soon after three out, and despite the calibre of opposition (Un De Sceaux second) it’s hard to believe he was the same horse seen in the Shloer Chase 20 days earlier.
Good enough to finish sixth in the 2017 Champion Hurdle, less than three lengths behind fourth-placed Footpad, he boasted a near-exemplary record over fences prior to that Sandown blip, his only other defeat coming in a photo with North Hill Harvey to whom he was conceding 5lb.
A quick and accurate jumper with a good attitude (won 11 of his 22 National Hunt starts), his overall record fresh and at Cheltenham encourages a belief that he can bounce back to top form after his latest rest and make the frame at least at decent odds.