Sceau Royal has his Arkle prep at Doncaster

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January 26, 2018

Coffin-dodgers tell me – honestly I’m not 70 until March – that the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster used to be the most popular prep for the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, with such superstars as Dramatist, Beacon Light and Pearlyman using Town Moor as a stepping-stone to even bigger things.

The recent roll of honour may not be so impressive, but the Grade 2 race has long been the plan for Barbury’s big Racing Post Arkle Chase hope Sceau Royal, and it comes at the perfect time for the Festival.

With Daryl Jacob, who expressed himself “very happy” after coming over for a sit on Sceau Royal on Monday morning, since having been re-routed to Cheltenham for Trials Day, Wayne Hutchinson comes in for the ride, and, not surprisingly, Alan reckons he couldn’t have a better deputy.

Alan, reporting Sceau Royal in top order, said:”This race has long been the plan as he does not enjoy bottomless ground, so Doncaster was always going to suit him. Everything has gone smoothly since his impressive Grade 1 triumph at Sandown in December, when his jumping was as slick as ever.

“He is not the biggest, but he loves jumping and has been fast and accurate over his obstacles since the first day we schooled him at home.”

Sceau Royal will be accompanied in the box by Label des Obeaux, whose target is the Sky Bet Handicap Chase. Alan said:”He ran no race whatsoever in the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury, and we knew our fate after the first fence. He is a horse who takes a bit of knowing so having Wayne back on board will be a plus, and we have freshened him up these past six weeks in the hope that we can get him back on track.”

Dusky Legend is another who heads north, and Alan said:”She got to Ascot last Saturday, but heavy rain made the ground deep and with her race being three miles we opted not to run. Instead, we kept her back for this mares hurdle, after which we will freshen her up for Cheltenham, where she has done us proud in the past.

We also run Amadeus Rox – “been running well both on the Flat and over jumps” – in the two mile and three hurdle, and the promising Hurricane Minnie in the mares bumper.

We have just the runner on Trials Day at Cheltenham, Dino Velvet in the competitive two-mile handicap hurdle. Alan said:”He didn’t seem to get home in the Lanzarote at Kempton, so we are dropping him back down in trip.”

Finally, we have Cosmopolitan running on the polytrack at Lingfield, and Alan feels that he will benefit by stepping up to a mile and a half, having got outpaced last time over 10 furlongs before staying on at the end.