The Alan King-trained Sceau Royal made a classy return to action with a smooth success in the Grade Two Shloer Chase over two miles at Cheltenham.
Ridden by Daryl Jacob, the six-year-old son of Doctor Dino travelled stealthily into contention approaching the home straight and two good leaps in the closing stages secured victory over the gallant Simply Ned by two and a quarter-lengths.
A “tiny tweak on a suspensory” curtailed Sceau Royal’s season in January last term, forcing him to miss all of the major spring festivals. However, King’s charge showed no ill-effects from that setback in shrugging off a ten-month absence.
Barbury Castle handler King is now targeting the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park on December 8th, where he is set to take on the mighty Altior.
King said: “Sceau Royal did it very nicely today and we’re pleased with the performance.
“He had a very slight tweak to a suspensory, it was not the end of the world and he came through it fine.
“He hasn’t missed a day’s work since he came back into work this autumn. This race was always the plan and he came through it well.
“Sceau Royal’s big forte is that he is a very good jumper and very quick over his fences which always helps in races like this.
“I would like to think in the long-term that the Champion Chase is something we would think about.
“In the short-term, I think the Tingle Creek is the plan. We would have to take on Altior who scares the life out of me, but someone has to run against them.
“He is a very slow horse at home and I have to be careful who I run him with at home, but it’s about what they do on the track which is more important.”
Jockey Daryl Jacob was delighted with the performance put in by Sceau Royal, the horse returning to winning form after a minor injury that had kept him off the track since January.
“We are very happy, it is great to have the horse back,” said Jacob of the Alan King-trained six-year-old son of Doctor Dino. “What he did when winning at Sandown last winter [when winning the Henry VII Novices Chase] meant that I really missed him come The Festival last March.
“I thought in the Arkle he would have put it up to the likes of Footpad.”
Of today’s race, Jacob added: “This was a great race for the team to pick and all credit goes down to Anthony [Bromley] and Alan [King] and the team back at Alan’s, they have done a fantastic job getting him back.
“I schooled him last Sunday morning and it was some buzz to get back on him again then.
“Today I had an idea of what I wanted to do and that was to go down the middle. Even though we went a good gallop all the way, I was catching them the whole way down the back straight and, in the end, I had to come in behind the other horses to get him covered up again.
“It was a good performance for a horse who has had a long time off, he jumped supreme, he is very quick from A to B.
“He will come on a bit for the run, but fair play to Alan and all at Barbury Castle they had him nearly ready to rock and roll, there is a little improvement to come out of him – we’ll have to see if we can get that out of him.”
Simply Ned ran another very good race in defeat when finishing second in the Shloer Chase for the third time, having also done so in 2014 and 2016.
The 11-year-old, ridden by Brian Hughes and owned by David and Nicky Robinson, went down by two and a quarter lengths to Sceau Royal.
Simply Ned’s trainer Nicky Richards said: “I’d say that’s probably booked his ticket back to Ireland at Christmas [he won a Grade One at Leopardstown on December 27th last year] and he won’t look out of place, for sure. He’s an owner’s delight. We didn’t give a lot of money for him the day we bought him and he’s taken us to every party going. He’s been absolutely brilliant.
“He’ll go on any ground but I wouldn’t think about running him on firm.”
Third was Forest Bihan, trained by Brian Ellison and ridden by Danny Cook. The seven-year-old, finished 12 lengths behind Simply Ned.
Ellison said: “I’m over the moon. He just needed the run, that’s all, and was cantering coming down the hill. The trouble with these horses is finding races for them. He’s grown up a lot – he used to be too keen. He travelled and jumped out of this world and I think there’s a big race in him this year.”