Exclusive Interview: Alan King Talks Sandown

April 26, 2019 News
SANDOWN on Saturday marks the end of the British jumps season with champions crowned whilst giving us the opportunity to look back on a superb 12 months of racing.
There is also plenty of exciting action on the course with the magnificent Altior taking part in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase, in which he will attempt to set a record of 19 wins in a row.
Trying to stop him is trainer Alan King, who fields Sceau Royal in opposition. We spoke to King about taking on Altior, his chances of big-race success and plans for his Flat string this summer.
 
The British jumps season ends on Saturday at Sandown. How would you sum up your season?
It’s gone pretty well as a whole. We’re up in terms of winners for the year and we’ve broken the £1 million barrier for prize-money again, which is a great achievement.
 
And if there is one thing you could have improved, what would that have been?
The one thing we’ve been lacking is a Grade 1 winner and a few horses to compete at that level. However, those horses are very difficult to get hold of.
 
What would you say the highlight of your season has been?
I’m hoping it’ll come at Sandown on Saturday! Sceau Royal ran so well in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. To lead at the last was hugely exciting before Altior kicked on past us. The Glancing Queen winning at Aintree was a brilliant day as well and she’s one we’re looking forward to next season.
 
Sceau Royal takes on Altior again in the Celebration Chase on Saturday. Do you think you can turn the tables this time?
It was a terrific performance at Cheltenham and the better ground at Sandown in the Celebration Chase is going to be in his favour compared to last time. Look, we’re under no illusions about what we’re taking on and how big a task it is, but he’s in really good form and I would hope he’d run a very good race.
 
Talkischeap was a market mover for the bet365 Gold Cup this week. What sort of run are you expecting from him on Saturday?
It wasn’t our money that moved him in the market but we’re looking forward to running him. He’s fresh, he’s well and he’s had a good break coming into this race. I think he’ll like the ground and I don’t see the trip being a problem for him. It’s a wide open race and there are any number of horses who could win, so it’s just a case of whether we’re good enough on the day.
 
Scarlet Dragon and Harambe go for you in the opener. What do you make of their chances?
This is a newish race and these horses don’t get the chance to run for this sort of prize-money very often. They both go there with solid chances and I’d hope they’d run nice races.
 
You are a potent force on the Flat now as well as jumps. Has this been a deliberate move?
We’ve been building this up the last few years and we had our best season ever on the Flat last year. I think we’ve got a stronger team this year compared to last and we’ve added four two-year-olds to the team from the breeze-up sales in Newmarket last week. They’d be the best pedigrees for Flat horses we’ve bought so far, so there’s plenty to look forward to this summer.
 
And have the horses you have bought been done so as future jumpers or as primarily Flat horses for now?
They’re Flat horses first and foremost. If they’re good enough to compete in the top races on the Flat and win then that’s where they’ll stay. If not then we can send them jumping later on in their careers. They’re bought to do a job on the Flat first.
 
Chatez has been a stalwart for the yard on the Flat. How do you think he will get on at Haydock this weekend?
We just need the rain to arrive for him at Haydock as he’s very ground dependent. He’s a wonderful old horse and it was superb to see him get his head in front at Newbury. As long as the ground is suitable I’d like to think he would run another good race at the weekend.
 
And, finally, Beringer was an impressive winner at the Craven meeting last week. What are the plans for him?
We’ve got the option to stick at a mile with him or potentially look to go a mile and a quarter. I would think he’d go to York for the Dante meeting and there are races over both of those trips there that he could go for. After that we’ll see how things develop but Royal Ascot would be in our minds for him as well. He’s a very talented horse.