Fighting Fifth Hurdle on after second inspection
Sceau Royal may go off favourite if the Fighting Fifth goes ahead
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos) Fighting Fifth Hurdle on after second inspection
By Richard Birch 9:45AM 26 NOV 2016
Racing at Newcastle will go ahead following a pair of inspections of the frost-covered course on Saturday morning.
Clerk of the course James Armstrong initially called an inspection for 8am before taking a second look at 9.45am to allow temperatures to rise prior to the Fighting Fifth card.
"Last night, temperatures dipped to below freezing from 7pm onwards," said Armstrong, who kept the going at soft, good to soft in places.
"Thankfully, we've only raced on the track once prior to this meeting and we've got a great cover of grass, which has really got us out of jail."
Armstrong also thanked trainer Iain Jardine and jockey Daryl Jacob for their help in coming to the decision to race on.
With racing having been given the all clear, Sceau Royal could be sent off the favourite in the feature stanjames.com Fighting Fifth, despite finishing 51 lengths behind chief market rival Apple's Jade in Grade 1 company at Aintree in April.
The likeable four-year-old, already successful at Cheltenham and Wincanton, will be attempting to join an illustrious cast to have landed this famous race, including three-time scorers Comedy Of Errors and Birds Nest, and Night Nurse, Sea Pigeon, Gaye Brief, Browne's Gazette, Kribensis, Harchibald and My Tent Or Yours.
Trainer Alan King has understandably been very happy with Sceau Royal's progress since resuming from a summer break.
"Sceau Royal was a good juvenile hurdler but has definitely improved this season, winning by 11 lengths at Cheltenham and by nine lengths at Wincanton," he said.
"Though he was impressive last time he'll definitely be more at ease in the ground than he was at Wincanton, where it was plenty quick enough for him.
"He breezed well last weekend and seems in really good order, but this is another step up the ladder and should help us find out how close we are to getting to the big players."
Apple's Jade, now with Gordon Elliott after leaving the Willie Mullins stable, was a beaten odds-on favourite on her return to action at Down Royal this month, but still finished a length and three-quarters in front of one of her Fighting Fifth opponents, Petit Mouchoir.
Elliott said: "She's travelled over well and we're looking forward to running her. You'd be hoping she's improved for her run at Down Royal, and I think she has. The ground should suit her as well."
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