Ante-post each-way 'Alan King has a good week' double: Sceau Royal and Uxizandre

It was and eventful and tragic day for National Hunt racing this Saturday as ex-Grand National hero collapsed and died after gloriously lowering the colours of the Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase.

By virtue of perfect victories in the World Hurdle and King George, as well as a winning sequence stretching back nearly two years and nine races, Thistlecrack had swiftly risen to unbeatable status in the betting public’s eyes – for Many Clouds to defeat him was arguably a career best.

What a brilliant racehorse he was.

Thistlecrack has been eased to 5/2 for the Gold Cup and there’s still nothing behind him in the market to suggest that’s a bad price, but he showed his inexperience today and will need to jump better in March.

More significantly, his mental fortitude was tested today and came up short as he was out-battled by the relentless Many Clouds today, and though the victor tragically paid the ultimate price, the will to win is such a massive asset in a racehorse.



It wasn’t just the Gold Cup that was blown wide open, as the Champion Hurdle received its second major blow in a week as Faugheen was withdrawn from tomorrow’s Irish Champion Hurdle with a muscle injury, joining the reigning champ Annie Power on the sick list.

He must be up against it to make the Festival now and there’s still no guarantee he’ll be the force of old, so the race has taken a very different complexion.

Mullins has so many bullets to fire at the race, yet, despite winning, his mar Vroum Vroum Mag put in a thoroughly unconvincing win at Doncaster today and surely isn’t a Champion Hurdle horse.

It seems far more likely now that last year’s Neptune winner Yorkhill will be the stable’s main hope on the Festival’s opening day, though the market took no time to come to a similar conclusion as he’s now a best priced 5/1.

No thanks.

The market is all over the place with Faugheen out to 7/2 and Yanworth trimmed to the same price.

No thanks.

Favourite on Oddschecker at the time of writing is the 2/1 offered by Paddy Power for Altior to win in the non-runner-no-bet market, and if you do fancy putting some money on ice for a few months I couldn’t possibly fault that price.

His participation is highly unlikely though given the way he’s instantly taken to fences, and right now it’s Petit Mouchoir who is most tempting amongst the market principles at 5/1.

He of course runs as the odds-on favourite in the Irish Champion Hurdle tomorrow, so we might as well wait for the facts.

I find it remarkable that all this turbulence hasn’t shortened the odds of some of the rags at the bottom of the market, namely our 33/1 ante-post selection Sceau Royal.

I like that price so much I’m going in for more, as trainer Alan King has since said he wasn’t right after defeat at Newcastle and is the ‘forgotten horse’.

The big price is probably mostly down to Sceau Royal being a big disappointment at last year’s Festival, at a time when King’s horses were under a cloud, so if he does run his race in the Champion Hurdle on the opening day, we can back King’s runners with confidence throughout the week.

That means Sceau Royal would fit nicely in a double with another of King’s runners, and in today’s Clarence House Chase the ex-Ryanair winner UXIZANDRE far exceeded connections’ expectations when chasing home a race-fit Un De Sceaux to place second.

That was Uxizandre’s first run since the Festival two years ago, when he was a surprise 16/1 winner under A P McCoy – his last ever Festival winner – and went some way to prove his talent remains.

King was thrilled afterwards and was quick to state the Ryanair to be his primary target in March, though he does have an entry in the two-mile Champion Chase.

The latter would mean a clash with Douvan whilst the former is looking likely to be a rematch with Un De Sceaux, who trades favourite at 7/2.

Uxizandre would have to find five lengths, which seems perfectly conceivable considering today was his first visit to a racecourse in nearly two years.

Improvement feels guaranteed and good ground at the Festival would swing the balance in his favour as Un De Sceaux is seen as best on softer going.

Sceau Royal is another good ground lover so the two require similar conditions to be seen at their best and they complement each other nicely in a monster priced double.

The 33/1 about Sceau Royal in the Champion Chase combined with the now best-price of 16/1 for Uxizandre to win the Ryanair combines in a 567/1 each-way accumulator with BetVictor.

Yes please – them both placing would return at 16/1.

0.25pt each-way double: Sceau Royal (Champion Hurdle) and Uxizandre (Ryanair Chase) @567/1 with BetVictor

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