Cheltenham Festival: Queen Mother Champion Chase victory for Sire De Grugy proves popularity of Moores' family affair

It was the first time Jamie Moore had ridden into this Festival's hallowed winner's circle, and what a way to break his duck

cheltenham

It was a family affair here as Sire De Grugy stepped out of a winter shadow on a bright spring afternoon to take the Betvictor Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The gelding is trained and ridden by Moore & Son, Gary and Jamie. He is the first and only horse to carry the colours of Steve Preston and his extended clan, 12-strong on the podium. And racing's wider brotherhood showed its appreciation as, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, the jockeys who had not ridden in the race emerged from the weighing room to cheer their friend and colleague.

It was the first time Moore Jnr had ridden into this Festival's hallowed winner's circle, and what a way to break his duck. Yes, Sire De Grugy started 11-4 favourite for the two-mile chasing crown and, with two Grade One races already under his girth this season, was setting the standard. But despite his obvious progressive talent, his position at the top of the tree had been acknowledged only rather grudgingly in the face of the enforced absence from the campaign of the brilliant title-holder, Sprinter Sacre.

Perceptions must now change. Sire De Grugy showed himself worthy of the highest accolades as he powered up the finishing hill, still full of running after a foot-perfect round of jumping, to beat Somersby six lengths.

However, it was not only the horse, who cheerfully and unassumingly got on with his job, that was given the reception he deserved, but also the similarly gifted horsemen who brought him to this defining moment.


Gary Moore cannot really be described as a small-time trainer; he has a string of more than 100 at Lower Beeding in West Sussex. The sport has been his life; his father Charlie trained, he was a journeyman jump jockey for 17 years, and his children are all riders. The eldest, former Flat champion Ryan, was here to watch.

The two younger sons, Jamie and Josh, are part of their father's business at aCisswood Stables. "We all stick a shift in," said the hero, clearly moved by the public and professional reaction to the victory. "Most people in racing do and it's how we've been brought up. But it's nice to know you're liked in this world."

Both Gary and Jamie preferred to divert credit to the other, and to the white-blazed chestnut who gave them their moment in the sun. After Somersby and two of the Irish challengers, Special Tiara and Arvika Ligeonniere, swapped duties up front in the race, Moore Jnr put Sire De Grugy in the firing line going to the second-last obstacle, briefly accompanied by the 2011 winner and dual runner-up Sizing Europe.

"He was travelling so well as I came down the hill," he said, "and when I went past Ruby [Walsh, on Arvika Ligeonniere] I shouted to him what I should do – he's the one who has ridden all the winners here after all – and he told me to get myself up there and sit behind Special Tiara. So after he'd given me my riding lesson, I made my move. And I must have got it right as even Ryan said I rode a good race."

Behind Sire De Grugy, Somersby held off the fast-finishing Module by a neck, with the old-timer Sizing Europe an honourable fourth. "I had some spin on mine," said Dominic Elsworth, on the runner-up, before echoing the popular sentiment. "Jamie sits next to me in the weighing room, and I couldn't be more pleased. He's a great lad and they're a great family."

Moore knows Sire De Grugy better than many riders know their mounts; he rides him daily at home, usually doing his own thing away from the activity surrounding the main string before getting on with his afternoon job as a jockey.

"He's obviously improved this season," he said. "I've been impressed with the way he can now cope with fiddling a fence if he meets it wrong, that has come with maturity and he's good at it now. We have a good rapport and everything clicked today. When I sat still he popped, when I asked he came up for me and when I gave him a kick after the last he went again. He is such a trier, a really tough horse.

"And getting him here today is such a good training performance. He ran five times in two months back in the winter and won four of them. Then we gave him a break and he's come and done this today. It shows dad can train them hard or soft."

Moore Snr has had a winner at this meeting before, with Tikram in one of the handicaps, but Sire De Grugy is his first top-class horse in 21 years with a training licence, and he defends his pride and joy roundly.

"Someone said that as the Champion Chase, this race should be done under the Trade Descriptions Act because Sprinter Sacre wasn't here," he said. "And that sort of thing is annoying. This horse has never been given the credit he deserves, but today he's gone out there and done it, under an absolute peach of a ride."

The acquisition of Sire De Grugy, who cost just £41,000 (small change in racing terms) and has won some £500,000, was the result of a business punt by Moore. Preston asked a selection of trainers to find him a horse and stand 25 per cent of the risk themselves. "Gary was the only one happy with that," he said, "and now here we are today."

The odds in this game tend to be stacked in favour of the Goliaths; it was business as usual in the opener, for instance, as Faugheen proved himself yet another expensively bought youngster of immense potential for the powerful Willie Mullins stable. But the Davids can have their day.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower