Can Sceau Royal Challenge at Arkle Chase?
Source: horseracingrn via Twitter
Sceau Royal put forward a strong performance before Christmas to suggest that he could challenge for the Arkle Chase crown at Cheltenham Festival. Andy King’s charge triumphed at the Henry VIII Novices` Chase at Sandown Park, delivering a commanding victory to race clear of the rest of the field.
The win was his second on the bounce and has lowered the French horse’s odds for the Arkle Chase, although Footpad is the favourite here
at William Hill for the event due to his imperious run of form. Sceau Royal will need to raise his level of performance to defeat his compatriot at Cheltenham in March.
The six-year-old has underwhelmed in his two previous appearances at Cheltenham, beginning with his 12th-place finish at the Triumph Hurdle in 2016. He was off the pace from the start and was unable to make an impression in the contest, despite being considered a decent outside bet. His 2015/16 season was to end on a low note, with another struggling performance at the Juvenile Hurdle, placing down in sixth – well behind eventual winner Apple’s Jade.
King’s charge bounced back for the start of the 2016/17 campaign with a victory at Cheltenham, finishing 11 lengths ahead of his nearest rival at the Masterson Holdings Hurdle. He notched successive victories with a fine ride at the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton Racecourse, driving through the field with Daryl Jacob in the saddle to win by a comfortable margin ahead of Rayvin Black.
However, his momentum was stymied for the rest of the campaign, struggling to compete with elite competitors. This included his sixth-place finish at the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy, finishing well off the pace of the leading group as Buveur D’Air won the meet by dominating the rest of the field. The six-year-old ended the term with another below-par outing at the Scottish Champion Hurdle, failing to make an impression down the stretch ending the meet in ninth.
Source: RPWeekender via Twitter
Sceau Royal began the new season on a front foot with a victory at the Novices` Chase at Warwick
. He was considered the favourite for the event, and the bay gelding manoeuvred his way through the field to secure the win by four-and-a-half lengths. He continued his impressive speed in his next race at Cheltenham last October, only to be edged out down the final furlong of the meet by North Hill Harvey, losing out by a neck.
He returned to winning ways with a solid run at the 4-Y-O & 5-Y-O Novices` Chase at Warwick, defeating the only other competitor San Pedro De Senam by 21 lengths. The French horse dropped his strongest hint yet that he is capable of mounting a charge at Cheltenham Festival by triumphing at the Henry VIII Novices` Chase
. Jacob guided the horse into the lead three fences from the end of the race before the six-year-old upped the ante with a surge down the straight to beat out North Hill Harvey by 11 lengths.
King’s charge was not considered the favourite for the event and dominated. However, trainer and jockey must now prepare their horse for the greater challenge of Footpad and the Arkle Chase.