Eight go forth for Fifth

Sceau Royal could attempt to boost his Champion Hurdle credentials in the stanjames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.

Sceau Royal (R) could take another step up the ladder on Saturday

Alan King's five-year-old endured a disappointing spring when the yard was struggling for winners but has won both starts this season in impressive fashion, latterly when taking the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

This weekend's Grade One would represent another step up the latter towards a possible tilt at the hurdling blue riband event at Cheltenham in March and he could face last season's impressive Triumph Hurdle winner Apple's Jade.

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The filly disappointed on her debut for Gordon Elliott at Down Royal prompting her trainer to say: "If you look at those Triumph Hurdle horses over the years, they do want a trip. We'll step her up in trip and she'll win loads of races."

However, it would appear that connections are entertaining a rethink.

She could be joined on the journey from Ireland by Hidden Cyclone and Petit Mouchoir, who finished one place behind her last time, as trainer Henry de Bromhead attempts to follow up last year's success with Identity Thief.

The entries are completed by last year's second Irving, Dan Skelton's French import Optimus Prime, Mirsaale and Top Notch whose two starts this season have been over fences.

Sky Bet latest: 11/10 Sceau Royal; 3/1 Irving; 10/3 Petit Mouchoir; 7/1 Apple's Jade; 10/1 Top Notch

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