The Alan King-trained Sceau Royal (5/4 favourite) made a classy return to action with a smooth success in the G2 Shloer Chase over two miles at Cheltenham on Sunday.
Ridden by Daryl Jacob, the six-year-old son of Doctor Dino travelled stealthily into contention approaching the home straight and two good leaps in the closing stages secured victory over the gallant Simply Ned (28/1) by two and a quarter-lengths.
A "tiny tweak on a suspensory" curtailed Sceau Royal's season in January last term, forcing him to miss all of the major spring festivals. However, King's charge showed no ill-effects from that setback in shrugging off a ten-month absence in the G2 event this afternoon.
Barbury Castle handler King is now targeting the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park on December 8, where he is set to take on the mighty Altior.
King said: "Sceau Royal did it very nicely today and we're pleased with the performance.
"He had a very slight tweak to a suspensory, it was not the end of the world and he came through it fine.
"He hasn't missed a day's work since he came back into work this autumn. This race was always the plan and he came through it well.
"Sceau Royal's big forte is that he is a very good jumper and very quick over his fences which always helps in races like this.
"I would like to think in the long-term that the Champion Chase is something we would think about.
"In the short-term, I think the Tingle Creek is the plan. We would have to take on Altior who scares the life out of me, but someone has to run against them.
"He is a very slow horse at home and I have to be careful who I run him with at home, but it's about what they do on the track which is more important."
Jockey Daryl Jacob was delighted with the performance put in by the 5/4 favourite Sceau Royal today in the G2 Shloer Steeple Chase the horse returning to winning form after a minor injury that had kept him off the track since January.
"We are very happy, it is great to have the horse back," said Jacob of the Alan King-trained six-year-old son of Doctor Dino. "What he did when winning at Sandown last winter [when winning the Henry VII Novices Chase] meant that I really missed him come The Festival last March.
"I thought in the Arkle he would have put it up to the likes of Footpad."
Of today's race, Jacob added: "This was a great race for the team to pick and all credit goes down to Anthony [Bromley] and Alan [King] and the team back at Alan's, they have done a fantastic job getting him back.
"I schooled him last Sunday morning and it was some buzz to get back on him again then.
"Today I had an idea of what I wanted to do and that was to go down the middle. Even though we went a good gallop all the way, I was catching them the whole way down the back straight and, in the end, I had to come in behind the other horses to get him covered up again.
"It was a good performance for a horse who has had a long time off, he jumped supreme, he is very quick from A to B.
"He will come on a bit for the run, but fair play to Alan and all at Barbury Castle they had him nearly ready to rock and roll, there is a little improvement to come out of him - we'll have to see if we can get that out of him."
Sceau Royal is a 14/1 chance from 25/1 for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase with Paddy Power The Festival™ presented by Magners in March.
2.25pm Shloer Chase (Grade 2) 1m 7f 199y
1 Sceau Royal (Simon Munir & Isaac Souede) Alan King 6-11-03 Daryl Jacob 5/4 Fav
2 Simply Ned (David & Nicky Robinson) Nicky Richards 11-11-06 Brian Hughes 28/1
3 Forest Bihan (Phil & Julie Martin) Brian Ellison 7-11-00 Danny Cook 16/1
Distances: 2¼, 12
Tote Win: £2.00 Places:£1.30, £4.60 Exacta: £17.90