Sceau Royal spot on for Irish mission on Sunday
Alan has no illusions about toppling triple Grade 1 winner Blue Lord in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday, but, having fine-tuned the evergreen Sceau Royal on the Barbury gallops this morning, he is looking forward to flying the flag for Britain in a race for which the valuable prize money is too tempting to pass by.
Successful in 17 of his 48 races, earning more than £680,000 along the way, Sceau Royal has not won over fences since beating Champ and Greanateen in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury two years ago.
But Sceau Royal, now an 11-year-old, has looked to have lost none of his dash over hurdles this winter, and on official ratings he is the second best horse of the five left in, being only 6lb behind Blue Lord, who is three years younger.
Alan said:”I am realistic enough to admit that victory for Sceau Royal is unlikely, but he certainly deserves his place in what is a small field.
“He did his last bit of work this morning, and I am very happy with him. He leaves on the ferry on Thursday, and I am full of hope that he will run well enough to make the trip worthwhile.
“Sceau Royal really is a remarkable horse and he’s been with us more than seven years now. He has retained all his old enthusiasm and he not only holds his form year after year but has looked as good as ever this season.
“He schooled on Monday and seems in great heart, and I definitely think he is better going left-handed over fences, so Leopardstown should suit him well.”
It is rare to see two sisters entered in the same mares novice hurdle, but Alan is contemplating running his Passing Glance siblings at Wetherby on Saturday.
He said:”We have Passing Reflection, who was staying on in promising fashion when second to the highly-regarded Hidden Beauty on her hurdling debut at Doncaster, together with her year older sister Pass The Love.
“Pass The Love has actually had the less racing of the pair, having been off since finishing second in a Ludlow bumper before Christmas the year before last, but Passing Reflection ought to be competitive if she makes the progress expected since Town Moor.”
Fittingly, having been talking about this pair with Alan this morning, we promptly went off to see some of the stable’s untapped youngsters get their first experience of the carpet gallop, and two coming up in one of the foursomes were both sons of that good racemare L’Unique.
Alan and owner-breeder, Denis Barry, have fond memories of L’Unique, who won them four races, including two at Aintree, and these unraced youngsters certainly looked the part. There is a four-year-old by Milan, while the Kayf Tara is a year older, so keep an eye out of form them.