Sceau Royal set to miss Arkle after minor setback

Sceau Royal will miss the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after meeting with a setback.

The Alan King-trained the six-year-old, who is four from five over fences this season, was the general third favourite for the Grade One contest on March 13.

King said: “It is just a little niggle, but it is enough to stop us and we have taken the decision we will not be taking him to Cheltenham. It is a shame, but this is what happens with horses unfortunately and there is no point hiding it.

“Simon (Munir) and Isaac’s (Souede) vet will come down this week and and have a look at him and we will discuss what to do then.

“Put it this way, we won’t take any chances with him. If we feel he is not right, we will stop for the season and bring him back next season.”

* Denis Hogan reports stable stalwart Inis Meain on course for the Glenfarclas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 11-year-old has proven a terrific servant for connections, winning twice at Listed level on the Flat, and has been running with credit in novice chase company this winter.

He has already had a taste of the cross-country course at Prestbury Park, finishing sixth in handicap company in November, and Hogan expects him to improve for that experience on Wednesday week.

“I think Inis Meain will run in the cross-country. He had a nice run around there in November and got a good education from it,” said the County Tipperary handler.

“It’s just a pity it’s not a handicap this time as in a conditions race he’s probably wrong at the weights a little bit.

“He’s in great nick, though, and I think the trip will bring out the best in him.”

Stablemate Moyhenna is unlikely to take up her engagement in the Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Thursday week.

The daughter of Westerner has won a bumper and a maiden hurdle at Punchestown on her two most recent outings, but Hogan may wait for the Shannon Spray Mares Novice Hurdle at Limerick on March 18 unless conditions became testing at Cheltenham.

“She’s in the mares’ novice at Cheltenham but is more likely to go to Limerick on St Patrick’s weekend for a two-mile-six race on softer ground,” said Hogan.

“Unless it came up very heavy at Cheltenham. If that happened she’d be entitled to go, but only if it was proper heavy.”

* Anthony Honeyball is keen to step up in trip with Ms Parfois in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, provided conditions are suitable. The Mosterton handler is favouring a shot at the four-mile event on the opening day of the Festival over an outing in the Betfred Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Saturday week.

After winning a brace of Listed events, Ms Parfois finished a respectable second behind Grade One winner Black Corton in the Reynoldstown at Ascot last month.

Honeyball said: “As the long as the ground is in and around soft, she will run in the four-mile amateurs’ chase and Will Biddick will ride her. He will come down and school her before the race.

“The race looks tailor-made for her. She will get the trip well as she is relaxed in her races, plus she has won around Cheltenham.

“She has got a great deal of experience for a novice and you need that in the four-miler. I was quite confident she would win the Reynoldstown, but the ground was not soft enough to bring out her galloping nature, but she didn’t run that badly.”

Honeyball expects stablemate Acey Milan to put up a bold show as he bids for a fourth successive win in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper on the second day of the Festival. He added: “He has been fantastic this season. He has won two Listed races and his biggest test for me was last time against the all-age bumper horses at Newbury.

“He was very impressive that day and he is improving with each run. That Newbury race normally turns up a good horse. He has got good form around Cheltenham. The only thing was he had a hard enough race at Newbury and it was not that long ago, but he he has come out of it very well as he has done in all of his races.

“He ticks a lot of boxes and we will have him very much tuned up and ready to go.”

* Connections of Terrefort are leaning towards giving him an outing the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday week.

The Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old, who is a general 8-1 shot for the two-and-a-half-mile prize, is unbeaten over fences since joining the Seven Barrows handler, winning on his debut at Huntingdon before taking Grade One glory at Sandown last time.

Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: “I’d say that he is likely to run in the JLT. He has been trained as if he could run there and I’d say he will most likely run.

“He has got an entry in the RSA, but he is only five and we don’t want to stretch him too far at this stage of his career. I think he is a three-miler in the making for next season.

“Nicky seems happy enough with him. He is already a Grade One winner this season and he deserves to take his chance.”



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