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King blames too much racing as £15,000 heat pulls just two runners

Sceau Royal: facile victory at Warwick
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Alan King pinpointed the sheer quantity of racing as a contributory factor to low-runner fields in novice hurdles and chases after Sceau Royal scored in the latest match at Warwick on Wednesday.

Sent off at odds of 1-16, last year’s Elite Hurdle winner, the mount of Daryl Jacob, strolled home by 21 lengths from only rival San Pedro De Senam in the feature 2m novice chase worth £15,000.

King said: “It's a difficult situation – this was a different race for four and five-year-olds but it was more competitive four or five years ago – I remember Voy Por Ustedes winning this and he had to graft to win it.

"There's far too much racing these days and we have to be guarded.

"If I've got a 125-rated horse, why I would I take on one of Paul's [Nicholls] or Nicky's [Henderson] rated 150 and be two hurdles or fences behind and learn nothing? The horse gets disillusioned and probably ends up on the floor, but at the same time, this situation is nothing new.

"When I first followed racing, in the days of Fred Winter, there were three- or four-runner races around Newbury and no one complained, but we're so beholden to bookmakers these days that it's made more of an issue. For me, it's all about the horses.”

Last week fellow trainer Nicky Henderson described it as 'embarrassing' after a graduation chase he won at Kempton attracted only two runners.

Warwick clerk of the course Jane Hedley was understandably frustrated by the low turnout for the feature contest there and said: "It's frustrating to put up £15,000 in prize-money and to attract only two runners. 

"The second horse has picked up over £2,000 but there was more prize-money to be had and I don't really understand why we aren't filling up these races, although clearly there's a bigger picture."

Warwick was not the only course blighted on Wednesday as Hexham's 3m novice chase, won by 1-9 shot Very First Time, attracted a field of three.

There's far too much racing these days and we have to be guarded
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