Alan King is excited at seeing Sceau Royal begin his crucial second season over fences in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday.
The six-year-old, wearing the familiar colours of Simon Munir and Isaace Souede, is a possible challenger to Altior for Champion Chase honours after a successful novice campaign.
Sceau Royal won four of his five starts, but did not run after January and missed the Festival meeting in March.
However, everything has gone swimmingly for some time and King reports Sceau Royal to be primed for his return.
“It is always difficult for a chaser coming out of his novice season, but Sceau Royal has done little wrong over fences, winning the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown last December,” the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
“A tweak with a suspensory in the spring caused him to miss the Arkle, which in view of the ground at Cheltenham in March might well have been a blessing in disguise.
“Everything has been A1 since he came back into training and he schooled well last Sunday, so here’s hoping all goes well.
“He’s in great form. Daryl (Jacob) came in and schooled him. He hasn’t run for a while, but he hasn’t missed a day since he came back in so looking forward to getting him started and knowing how good he is.”
Nicky Henderson is represented by Brain Power, who is Altior’s regular work companion and a smart competitor himself.
“He’s in very good form at home and does most of his work with Altior as he’s the only horse that can go with him!” the Seven Barrows trainer said in his Unibet blog.
“When Brain Power is good, he’s very good and we’ve done little bits of tinkering with him over the summer and given him a full MOT so he arrives here in good shape.
“We were going to run Altior in this race but Sandown (Tingle Creek) comes up quite quickly so it brings this horse into the equation.
“He goes well fresh and will really like the ground, and if it doesn’t go to plan over fences we can always switch back to hurdles.”
Opposition includes seasoned campaigner Simply Ned, who will be running in this race for the fifth year running.
The 11-year-old has finished second twice and fourth twice, and trainer Nicky Richards is expecting his stable stalwart to put a below-par display at Kelso behind him.
“He seems to be in grand fettle. We were a little bit disappointed with him at Kelso, but he seems to come out of it well,” said the Greystoke handler.
“He was just a bit heavy and blew up at Kelso. He’d done very well in the summer and I was maybe over-training him just a touch to try to get him fit.
“He’s a grand horse and he’ll run a good race. He’ll beat more than will beat him.”