Desert Orchid enters Kempton equation for Sceau Royal

Sceau Royal may return to fences for a potential clash with Altior in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase.

Best known for his exploits in the two-mile chase division, Alan King’s charge has successfully reverted to the smaller obstacles this season – with wins in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

The eight-year-old has since chased home Nicky Henderson’s Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, before finishing a creditable fourth in last Saturday’s International Hurdle at Cheltenham – in which just five hurdles were jumped because of the low sun.

While a rematch with Epatante in the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day is not being ruled out, King will also consider instead taking on her esteemed stablemate 24 hours later.

“I thought Sceau Royal ran extremely well the other day,” said the Barbury Castle trainer.

“I know it didn’t suit a lot of them, but it certainly didn’t suit us with the hurdles coming out, because that is his one strong point – his jumping.

“He seems to have taken the race very well, and there’s a chance he could go to Kempton over Christmas.

“He’ll have an entry in the Christmas Hurdle, but he’ll also have an entry in the Desert Orchid – and we’ll look and see what’s there.

“There’s nothing really for him in January or February, so he could have a good break after Christmas.”

At the prospect of taking on one of the Seven Barrows stars at Kempton, King added: “We’ll try and give Mr Henderson something to worry about, although I don’t think he’ll worry too much!”

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