Alan King is happy to give his Queen Mother Champion Chase hope Sceau Royal a prep run in Wincanton’s Betway Kingwell Hurdle.
The Barbury Castle trainer has decided on the hurdles spin, with Sceau Royal in great shape and ground conditions suitable on Saturday.
The seven-year-old has not run since finishing last of four to Altior in the Tingle Creek at Sandown in December, having won the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham the previous month.
Sceau Royal is no stranger to the Somerset venue, having won the Elite Hurdle in 2016 and finished second behind stablemate Yanworth in this race two years ago.
“We were going to go straight to Cheltenham. But he seems in very good form, and it looks like the ground will be good at Wincanton,” King told Sky Sports Racing.
“We’re very happy with him and we thought we might as well let him take his chance here before going for the Champion Chase.”
King added on his official website: “Sceau Royal will get his favoured decent ground, and he was a very slick hurdler and good enough to finish third to Yanworth in this race before he went chasing.”
Colin Tizzard is hoping to make hay with Vision Des Flos, who has twice been placed behind dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D’Air.
“He’s 150-rated, and the rest aren’t rated much above him,” the Dorset trainer told Sky Sports Racing.
“If he hadn’t unseated in his first chase we’d have carried on chasing. But he’s only just turned six, and we can leave that until next season and go chasing in the autumn.
“We’ll try and win as much prize-money as we can (over hurdles) on the way.”
Unison takes a big step up in grade, but his latest success at Taunton persuaded trainer Jeremy Scott to try to grab a share of the decent prize money.
“It’s not the strongest of Kingwells, I would imagine, which is why we’re having a run in it,” said the Somerset handler.
“The ground wouldn’t be ideal if it goes to good. The horse is on very good form and probably ran his very best race last time out, so we’ll let him have a go at a nice prize.
“He has run well there before, but it was heavy when he won that day. He’s fit and as well since we’ve had him, so why not have a tilt at something? Everywhere else he runs he’s handicapped up to the eyeballs, so at least he’s off level weights or without a penalty.”
Completing the select field of five are Harry Fry’s Jolly’s Cracked It and the Paul Nicholls-trained Grand Sancy, who both head for this contest rather than go to Ascot for the re-scheduled Betfair Hurdle.