Tony Calvin: Impressive Sceau can be a Royal Cheltenham winner

Can Gigginstown land the King George on Boxing Day with Disko?
Can Gigginstown land the King George on Boxing Day with Disko?
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After Sceau Royal's impressive win on Saturday Tony Calvin believes he'll be the horse to beat if turning up in the Arkle at Cheltenham next March, while Disko is still the one our man likes in the King George in a fortnight's time...

"Sceau Royal has never raced beyond 2m1f in his life and looks an out-and-out speedster and I can't readily see an alternative for the Arkle for him - Footpad could easily get the 2m4f of the JLT, and we know Mullins likes targeting his horses at their easiest Festival targets - so I think the 8/1 about him is a bet."

Once bitten, twice shy, for now - if Special Tiara was fit, I was amazed that he didn't come over for the Betfair Tingle Creek - so I will leave Friday and Saturday's racing alone for now, especially with the weather as it is.

I am happy to cover both days in my usual ITV columns later in the week, when as usual we may get better prices as well as enhanced place terms, but I do think that Sceau Royal is a massive player for the Arkle and he remains overpriced at 8/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook.

I say remains as he was trimmed in from 9/1 on Monday morning - the 10/1 in another place immediately after Saturday's race has long gone, too - but I would probably have him as favourite, ahead of his "ownermate" Footpad.

There is no doubting the fact that the presence of Footpad muddies the waters here for Sceau Royal backers.

The 157-rated hurdler Footpad was very impressive on his chasing debut over 2m1f at Navan and I imagine owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede will be keen to keep their talented pair apart, if possible.

But, given Footpad stays a lot further than 2m - though admittedly his best hurdling effort came over the minimum trip on good ground in this year's Irish Champion Hurdle - surely Sceau Royal is the more likely to go for the Arkle, if they are kept apart.

I fully appreciate Willie Mullins may not be as keen on that idea, though...

Sceau Royal has never raced beyond 2m1f in his life and looks an out-and-out speedster and I can't readily see an alternative for the Arkle for him - Footpad could easily get the 2m4f of the JLT, and we know Mullins likes targeting his horses at their easiest Festival targets - so I think the 8/1 about him is a bet.

And he has already shown everything you would look for in a winner of the 2m novices' chase.

He was about the only horse I got right last weekend, as I didn't let his big day-of-race drift deter me one bit, and his winning SP of 11/1 - and bigger on the exchange - didn't make any sense.

He was the second best hurdler in the race and 5lb better off for the neck he was beaten by North Hill Harvey at Cheltenham in October, so he was fully entitled to reverse those placings, but the fact that he did so by 11 lengths on the bridle was something else.

I have already heard people begin to crab the form, with Finian's Oscar being outpaced over the sub-2m trip, and Brain Power and Capitaine not completing, but I am not having that.

The time was very good, Brain Power was soundly beaten when coming down at the last, and I think a reproduction of the Sandown form will be more than good enough to get him in the Cheltenham three, at least, come March.

And, aside from that Cheltenham second in October, he also has a couple of hurdles wins at the track on his dance card and he acts on both good and soft ground.

The one worry, I guess, is that he has done all winning in this country in small fields - remarkably, he has won eight races here but none featured more than five opponents - but the Arkle is often a single-digit race and I don't see a lot of depth to the potential field, as it stands, either.


Still dancing to Disko's tune

I have been nibbling away at Disko for the King George and Gold Cup for a while now, as those of you who read my column regularly will know, and nothing I saw at the weekend deters me from his Kempton prospects on Boxing Day.

Well, that is not exactly true as we didn't see him in the John Durkan, and I haven't read anything as to why he didn't rock up there. He was the third favourite, after all.

I would hope that connections are simply keeping him fresh for Kempton, rather than any setback, and the race could be beginning to open up, and he is a very tempting price at 25/1+. I certainly think he is the most likely of the Gigginstown trio still in the race (the others being Road To Respect and Outlander) to run.

Might Bite's potential is fully factored into his price and, for all that Bristol De Mai's Wetherby form was franked by Blaklion and Definitly Red at the weekend, decent ground would bring his class level down a notch.

I was underwhelmed by Thistlecrack's hurdles return, and you had to be a little bit disappointed by Fox Norton's defeat in the Tingle Creek.

Sizing John, in the same ownership, hammered Djakadam in the John Durkan on Sunday and would be a major Kempton player, but I thought the vibes about him coming over at Christmas were lukewarm at best after the race. And Djakadam could well give the King George a swerve now, as surely will his sidelined stablemate Douvan.

No, I really like Disko, whose JLT third to Yorkhill and Top Notch, with Tingle Creek winner Politologue in fourth, just keeps on getting stronger.

Whisper would be a very interesting contender but at the moment nothing entices me more than Disko at 25/1+. He has plenty of pace, is an improving 6yo, and proved he stays 3m with a 5-length Grade 1 win at Punchestown in April. He is a force on the up, and I just hope he is an intended Kempton runner.


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