Sceau Royal eyeing Dublin and Cheltenham Festival challenges

Alan King's Sceau Royal has a number of options ahead of him including a trip to Leopardstown for the Dublin Festival followed by a crack at Cheltenham.

A winner at Kempton first time out this season, he finished runner-up in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton before coming home fourth of five to runaway winner Constitution Hill in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The evergreen 11-year-old, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, will build towards the Cheltenham Festival with a possible trip to Ireland on the cards.

King said "We have put him in the Queen Mother and the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

"He is also going to have an entry at Leopardstown - we could go over there in February. I think he will go chasing now.

"If he doesn't go to Leopardstown, he will probably go to the Game Spirit (Newbury) and then either of the two at Cheltenham. He's a great servant."

Promising juvenile hurdler Spartan Army will need a little more experience before a possible tilt at the Adonis Hurdle.

Formerly trained on the Flat by Joseph O'Brien, he justified odds-on favouritism on his Wetherby hurdling debut, but disappointed when well held by Comfort Zone in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow over Christmas.

King may well look towards Aintree rather than Cheltenham with the McNeill family co-owned gelding.

King said: "I think I overfaced him on his second run over hurdles and should have stuck to my original plan and gone to Kempton.

"I still think he is a very good horse. He has only had five races and I don't think the Triumph Hurdle will be his sort of race.

"We might work backwards from Aintree and I would like to go for a little novice somewhere and maybe look at the Adonis Hurdle (Kempton).

"Half my thinking is we might skip the Triumph and look at Aintree with him.

"He has only run three times on the Flat and that was just his fifth race the other day.

"His home work suggests he is a smart horse going forward. He is a big, scopey horse, not just a juvenile, and I just don't want to overface him with Willie (Mullins) bringing his battalions over for the Triumph. He doesn't tend to raid Aintree quite as much!"

King is pondering a trip to the Scottish Champion Hurdle with Tritonic, who is similarly co-owned by the McNeill family in conjunction with Ian Dale.

The six-year-old, who won the Adonis Hurdle in 2021, was last of nine to Marie's Rock in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, but King says he has taken it well.

"He's fine, but didn't stay. He will go for the Betfair Hurdle (Newbury) and will have one more run before then," said King.

"He could go to the Scottish Champion Hurdle. The owners love to have a raiding party up there and although it is a limited handicap, we could think about going there."

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