Second inspection called for Fighting Fifth card
Sceau Royal may go off favourite if the Fighting Fifth goes ahead
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos) Second inspection called for Fighting Fifth card
By Richard Birch 8:13AM 26 NOV 2016
A FURTHER inspection will be held at 9.45am at Newcastle after an earlier look at the frost-covered ground proved inconclusive.
Clerk of the course James Armstrong initially called an inspection for 8am but, while still optimistic the Fighting Fith Hurdle card will get the green light, will take another look to allow temperatures to rise further.
"Sun is rising," he tweeted. "We will look again at 9.45am to give temperatures a chance to lift. Clear skies still and will assist with small areas."
Should racing get 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."