Can Sceau Royal win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham?

By  //  March 9, 2021

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With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, punters across the United Kingdom and Ireland are starting to think long and hard about their selections for the meeting’s biggest races. It’s a difficult process, after all there are a huge 14 Grade 1 races spread across the four days, and only National Hunt racing’s finest are involved in the Prestbury Park meeting. 

The Festival’s feature races are amongst the most difficult to pick a winner, and that includes day two’s showpiece outing, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The two-mile race is often considered to be one of the most exciting races of the four days, and this year seven-time Leading Trainer Willie Mullins will be hoping to break his duck in the Champion Chase, as Chacun Pour Soi is heavily tipped to romp to victory.

If you look at last year’s Cheltenham race results today, you’ll notice that Chacun Pour Soi was the amongst the favourites. However, he was pulled out due to injury, alongside Altior, and Politologue went on to win the race with odds-on favourite Defi Du Seuil never really in the running.

The punters will certainly be hoping that they get to see Chacun Pour Soi vs two-time Queen Mother champion Altior this year, but as last year’s meeting proved anything can happen at Prestbury Park, perhaps we could see another winner from left of field in the day two feature.

There are a few horses entered in the race who have seen their odds slashed after good results in recent weeks, and one of those entries is Sceau Royal. The Alan King-trained horse has often been left in the shadows of Altior, but with the Nicky Henderson-trained legend seemingly in the autumn of his career, now could be the perfect time to strike revenge and win the Queen Mother on what could be Altior’s last attempt.

And, with a recent victory at Newbury, Sceau Royal looks in perfect nick to do just that. The nine-year-old was the 3/1 favourite for the recent Betfair Game Spirit Chase, and despite the late addition to the race of Champ, he duly delivered on his status as the market leader.

Champ, who is amongst the favourites for the Gold Cup, and Sceau Royal raced as one for much of the race. However, the King-trained horse, with Daryl Jacob in the saddle, began to open up a gap as they raced towards the finish, and in the end, they recorded a two-length victory over Henderson’s horse.

There was reason to celebrate for King, not only did he finally get one over on his old foe Henderson, but it was a sixth victory for Sceau Royal at Graded level, and the trainer will be certainly be hoping to kick on with Cheltenham fast approaching.

As well as the entry for the Champion Chase, the nine-year-old still has a place in the Champion Hurdle on hold. However, with his odds of winning the former being slashed to as short as 12/1 from 50/1, whilst he is still 33/1 to win the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother is definitely looking more likely.

Still, after the race trainer King reiterated that his entry all depends on the condition of the Prestbury Park ground and they are in no rush to make a decision on what to do in the Cotswolds just yet.

“We’re delighted, we’ve been riding him more aggressively and it’s paid off,” King said afterwards. “The ground is key to him, and always has been, that’ll determine where we go next. He’s in both the races at Cheltenham and we don’t need to decide yet.”

There are some very good horses ahead of Sceau Royal in the betting and it will be an incredibly tough task to win the Champion Chase. But, with his recent victory over Champ he has proven that he can beat top-class horses already. So, don’t leave your Cheltenham tips for tomorrow when you can sort them out today and certainly don’t rule Sceau Royal out of the running!

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