Sceau Royal and Goshen top Elite field

Sceau Royal and Goshen are among eight entries for the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

Winner of Saturday’s Grade Two 12 months ago, the versatile Sceau Royal showed he is every bit as good as ever when winning at Kempton on his reappearance recently.

With little rain forecast this week, Alan King’s nine-year-old will have enhanced prospects of winning the race for a third time – having done so for the first time back in 2016.

Gary Moore could hardly have his string in better form, so he will be hoping for a better start to this season from Goshen.

Last year, he was repeatedly held up until reappearing at Cheltenham in December when he was disappointing – but he did win the Kingwell Hurdle on his next outing, over the same course and distance as this weekend’s race. He was subsequently well beaten by Honeysuckle in two further outings.

An intriguing entry is last year’s County Hurdle winner Belfast Banter, who went on to win a Grade One novice hurdle at the Grand National meeting.

He has since finished in midfield in the Galway Hurdle, but took a heavy fall most recently at Listowel.

Belfast Banter (noseband) came through late to win at Aintree
Belfast Banter (noseband) came through late to win at Aintree (Tim Goode/PA)

Another Irish entry is the Grimes Hurdle winner Sole Pretender, trained by Norman Lee.

Christopher Wood, Hatcher, Petrastar and last year’s second Teqany complete the list.

The 60th Badger Beer Handicap Chase has attracted 22 entries.

Paul Nicholls’ Truckers Lodge is at the head of the weights – but with no rain on the horizon in Somerset, he could be a doubtful runner.

Nicholls has also entered Highland Hunter and Cat Tiger in a race he has won for three of the last four years – with Present Man twice and Give Me A Copper.

“This is the 60th year of sponsorship – and I’ve been very lucky to train some nice horses for the sponsors, Mark and Tessa Woodhouse, including Present Man who won it twice,” said Nicholls.

“It’s a race we love to win – it’s a great spectacle, and we’re all looking forward to it.

“The big problem this year is the ground. It’s good, and we’ve a dry week forecast, so the soft-ground horses are pretty much going to be ruled out.

“I’ve entered Cat Tiger, but he’s also got an option at Auteuil at the weekend, and I’ve put Truckers Lodge in because he needs a race before the Welsh National – and he loves going right-handed.

“He would probably prefer more cut in the ground, but he does have form on good. For soft-ground horses, this weekend will be a bit of an issue.

“We normally target the race, but this year it just hasn’t worked out like that. For Present Man, it was always his aim.”

Other Recent Posts by This Author:

Your first 30 days for just £1
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.