The highlight of the day comes from Warwick where Sceau Royal (3.20) and Forth Bridge clash in a terrific 2m Novices’ Chase with the Alan King-trained gelding expected to thrive over the larger obstacles this season.
The selection won the G2 Elite Hurdle last season at Wincanton in his second season over hurdles but was always one to be sent chasing by connections and can hopefully give 10lb and a beating to Her Majesty The Queen’s Forth Bridge. Sceau Royal is 33/1 with BetVictor for the Arkle Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and is likely to stick to the minimum trip in the interim.
King saddles Sego Success in the feature 3m Handicap Chase with the 9yo now just a pound lower than his course and distance success here back in January 2015. The son of Beneficial should relish this afternoon’s sounder surface but may struggle under the burden of twelve stone and preference lies instead with Beggars Cross (4.25) from the foot of the weights.
Jonjo O’Neill’s chaser disappointed when well-backed for handicap chases at Chepstow and Newbury in the spring but prior to that was a winner over today’s trip at Doncaster and remains well-treated under regular partner Aidan Coleman.
Dan Skelton’s runners remain in good form, Stick to the Plan’s Southwell mishap aside, and the yard look to have another smart one with Hatcher (2.35) well placed to make a winning hurdles debut under Harry Skelton at Huntingdon.
The selection has won his last two bumpers six months apart bolting-up over C&D here in the spring before defying a penalty on his seasonal reappearance last month at Worcester. He is likely to be even better over timber and will eventually be sent over fences by connections.
Tom George is another with a good strike-rate at the track and with his yard in good order can go close with Air Squadron (3.05) in the 3m Handicap Hurdle under the excellent Adrian Heskin. He has been frustrating to follow since leaving Ralph Beckett on the level however, shed the maiden tag over timber at the belated fifth time of asking last month at Southwell and should have much more to offer from a revised mark of 115. The son of Rail Link remains unexposed in this sphere and should be suited by both the drying ground and the step up in trip.
Royal Plaza (2.00) makes his debut for fledgling trainer Olly Murphy and looks well-handicapped from a mark of 120 in the 2m 4f Handicap Chase. The selection bolted-up from just a 3lb higher mark over hurdles last season at Market Rasen and is respected with further improvement likely. The son if King’s Theatre remains unexposed over fences and can gain a first chase success at the fourth time of asking.
Fergal O’Brien’s Pemba (3.40) was unlucky to bump into one last time out at Sedgefield and is a confident selection to go one better in the feature Novices’ Handicap Chase. The selection bumped into a useful sort of the Skelton yard but jumped beautifully on his fifth start over fences and can make it sixth time lucky chasing under Paddy Brennan.
They go on the all-weather at Lingfield where Easy Code (4.35) looks the best bet on the card under a 6lb penalty. The selection was a winner over course and distance just 9 days ago, when scoring for column readers under James Doyle, and should follow-up with Georgia Cox’s 5lb claim offsetting the penalty.