Sceau Royal became the first horse to win the Unibet Elite Hurdle for a third time when he shot home in Grade Two at Wincanton.
The admirable Alan King performer ran away in the running to add this year’s renewal to his previous wins in 2016 and 12 months ago.
The 4-5 favorite crossed the line five and a half lengths from Teqany in the hands of Daryl Jacob, his task being facilitated by Goshen’s late retirement – for whom the ground was too fast.
Sole Pretender brought the six riders with him in the early stages, with Christopher Wood and Teqany closely.
King said, “He talks. I don’t have to say much – I think he’s a superstar. He won at four, eight and nine. I said ‘what the hell was I doing in between?’ – but I was a novice huntress.
“He is as good as ever and I am convinced that he is slightly better. His homework is much better than two years ago. We know how to train him now and he is in a fantastic place.
“Daryl said he couldn’t have gone faster in the beginning, but the only thing he does is get the trip right. I have been saying for two years we will do two and a half with him, but I don’t know we think he will make it. we will do “.
Looking to future goals, King added: “We’ll be talking to Anthony Bromley (racing manager of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede), but one thing we won’t do is go right-handed over a fence – he went a little left today. , but you can get away with overcoming obstacles.
“Fighting Fifth and International in Cheltenham are possible”.
King had already scored a brace when Wynn House (100-30) returned to victory, three-quarters beating teammate Hotter Than Hell in Richard Barber Memorial Mares’ Handicap Hurdle under Tom Cannon.
“I always thought she was very good. She seems to have grown quite a bit and developed over the summer,” said the manager of the Barbury castle.
“He probably wants to get on the road, because the two and five miles around here on good ground is quite narrow, but he saw it well.”
Jordan Nailor enjoyed the biggest success of his career when he threw a surprise 40-1 over Rocco in the 60th Badger Beer Handicap Chase.
The 3-pound conditional resulted in the Nigel Twiston-Davies winner taking the lead at the penultimate fence.
The eight-year-old overcame the Potterman challenge by two and a quarter lengths to confine King’s charge to second place in this race for the second consecutive year.
The top two got six points clear of Hurricane Harvey, with the latter’s fourth favorite, Cap Du Nord. There was a sad PS to the race when it was confirmed that Storm Home suffered a fatal crash on the penultimate.
Of Rocco’s victory, Nailor said: “I had a nice obstacle winner last season, but going back to the start of the season and having another big winner means a lot.
“I’ve been racing a couple of times, and the thing I’ve learned is that you have to go fast early to get a good position, otherwise you get dragged back, but he got the position we wanted and did a fantastic jump, which he really has. helped.
“He had a fairly light weight on his back and the ground was good, which is what he wants. It’s a good test jump around here, and he jumps brilliantly, so everything went perfectly.
“Grade three (handicap in Sandown in March, in Beauport) was my first big winner, so it meant a lot. But this is a race that I have run in a few times – and I thought I would like to win it and now I have , so there are no complaints.
“He’s a bit inside and out, but when he behaves like that he’s a nice horse. This is my first winner since I dislocated my thumb in September, so it’s nice to have a winner like this.”
Jockey Charlie Hammond also scored his best win to date when he scored over Captain Tom Cat in The Grade Two John Romans Park Homes’ Rising Stars’ Novices’ Chase.
The 6-4 opportunity, coached by Richard Newland, made a good round of jumps and got the better of favorite Mick Pastor by two and a quarter lengths.
Hammond said, “This is by far my biggest winner. I won the Sefton last year, but coming here and winning a Grade Two is lovely. The boss (Newland) was good at hosting me today, so the things are going well.
“We missed a weird one in the back, but we were almost halfway through and just trying to accelerate. He was very smart and got me out of trouble – and in the last three, when I needed him, he was really Good.
“It was a good jumping performance, and he stayed out well, and that probably won us the race. He’s a great athletic guy who was a cheap buy, but the boss did a great job with him. “.