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NEWS: A look ahead to some of the weekend racing contenders
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NEWS: A look ahead to some of the weekend racing contenders
on 12 February 2019
Sceau Royal looks set for Wincanton, Sizing John suffers a setback and an update on Henderson's possible weekend runners

Alan King is not ruling out the possibility of running Sceau Royal in the Betway Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.

Plans had been in place to send straight to next month’s Cheltenham Festival for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

But with the ground remaining quick the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned gelding could revert back to hurdles for the first time this season in the Grade 2 prize than he did in 2017.

King said: “Anthony Bromley (racing manager to the owners) said to pop him in the race and have a look at that. He is very well at home.

“He is in at Kelso, but Nicky Henderson’s horse (We Have A Dream) I believe is going there so he won’t be doing that.

“It looks like being fairly dry for the rest of the week. The more the ground dries up, there is every chance he will run in the Kingwell.

“If he doesn’t go there he will keep over fences and head straight to Cheltenham for the Queen Mother. We are really just keeping our options open.”

Stablemate Yanworth could also be back in action on Saturday, holding entries in the Grade 2 William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock and Listed Keltbray Swinley Chase at Ascot.

The JP McManus-owned nine-year-old has not been sighted since finishing down the field in last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

King added: “I need to speak to Frank Berry (McManus’ racing manager) and see what they want to do. We have given him the two entries to keep his options open.

“I want to run him as he needs to get out and I’d like to think he will go somewhere this weekend. He has done a lot of work and is in great form. I’m very happy with him.”


Sizing John, winner of the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a setback.

Jessica Harrington’s charge will miss the Festival feature for a second consecutive year, having 12 months ago met with a pelvic injury the week before his Gold Cup defence.

The nine-year-old has not run since and while a weekend return at Gowran Park had been a possibility, Sizing John is now facing another spell on the sidelines.

Harrington told her Unibet blog on Tuesday: “Unfortunately, Sizing John has met with a setback and he will miss the remainder of this season. After routine exercise yesterday, I wasn’t happy with him and our vet came down and examined him.

“He has confirmed to me that he has met with a setback, which means that he won’t run at Cheltenham or Punchestown. His owners have been informed and, naturally, they are very disappointed, as is everyone at Commonstown.

“We will do what is best for him and we’ll speak to our veterinary team over the coming weeks and months and we will keep everyone posted on his progress.”


Nicky Henderson has been forced to rule several stable stars out of intended engagements this weekend as they do not meet the vaccination criteria set out by the British Horseracing Authority in its decision to resume racing following the equine influenza outbreak.

The BHA announced late on Monday that racing would start up again, but with strict biosecurity controls in place – with one of the key stipulations that no entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated in the previous six months.

Henderson is delighted the sport will recommence – but revealed Santini will not be able to run in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday, while Christmas Hurdle heroine Verdana Blue cannot take up her entry in a fast-track qualifier for All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Kempton.

Henderson told Press Association Sport: “It’s been a frustrating two weeks, as we were snowed in before this. Obviously we are all delighted with the news, as this is what we wanted to hear after everyone had looked at the situation.

“We are only just getting our results back, but I gather they are all OK. We have still got some more to come, but I imagine they will be all right.

“We have got one or two frustrations because of the vaccinations – it has caught out one or two horses as they have just fallen outside of the window. We have just got to juggle a few things around, which is frustrating.

“Everyone uses different vaccination programmes. A certain percentage will be fine, but others won’t.”

Under the rules set out, no horses will be able to run until seven days after being given a vaccination.

Henderson added: “There are a few that were due to run this weekend that can’t run like Santini, and Verdana Blue can’t run in her fast-track qualifier, so that takes her out of her Good Friday race.

“Yellow Dockets can’t run in the Grade 2 at Sandown and Beware The Bear is another who can’t run in the Grand National Trial at Haydock, but we could reroute him to the Eider Chase.

“We have just got to get our heads round a few things. We can sort them out today and they would be able to run next week, but that it is no good for many of them as for some these were the only races they could run in.


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