Sire De Grugy leaps into Cheltenham contention
Sunday 19 January 2014
Faint praise has been Sire De Grugy’s lot so far this season, but surely it must be time to acknowledge that he is a two-mile chaser of the highest order, with or without the damning shadow of Sprinter Sacre.
Yesterday’s Clarence House Chase was the eight-year-old’s sixth victory in seven runs, his second Grade One prize, and his most authoritative display to date. And it finally persuaded his trainer, Gary Moore, to commit the star of his stable to a challenge for the divisional crown, the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
With Sprinter Sacre, the highest-rated jumper in training, currently sidelined after cardiac problems and Sire De Grugy on an obvious upward roll in his second season over fences, bookmakers certainly believe the guard may be about to change. The reigning king is still an odds-on favourite for the Cheltenham Festival prize, but a drifting one, and yesterday’s Ascot hero is now as short as 2-1.
“He’s got to go for the Champion Chase now,” said Moore. “I’ve got nearly two months to freshen him up; he’ll have a break for a couple of weeks then I’ll bring him back for the Cheltenham race. He now deserves to be in it.”
Moore’s son Jamie, in the saddle for all 12 of Sire De Grugy’s victories, has done more than any behind the scenes to calm and channel the chestnut’s feisty tendencies. Yesterday his mount settled sweetly behind the solid pace set by Kauto Stone and Hidden Cyclone, the ease with which he was travelling exemplified by the leap at the third last that took him from third to first in the air without apparent effort. Another exuberant clearance at the last sealed an easy 11-length success.
“Some of the jumps he put in were just spectacular,” said his rider. “He was gaining a length, gaining a length every time. I’m not saying he’ll beat that other horse. But now I’ll say he just might.”
At Haydock, Melodic Rendezvous, who had pulled a muscle when disappointing behind My Tent Or Yours at Newcastle in November, bounced back to his best to take the Champion Hurdle Trial. On his favoured testing ground the Jeremy Scott-trained eight-year-old beat Ptit Zig by four-and-a-half-lengths, but is judged a 20-1 shot for the real thing at Cheltenham.
Numerically the day’s plaudits went to trainer Evan Williams, with a cross-card five-timer at Taunton and Haydock. The pair at the latter venue were both ridden by apprentice Conor Ring, including the Peter Marsh Chase winner, Wychwoods Brook.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester United vs Liverpool - I don't understand why Brendan Rodgers was not more attacking against Basel
Jesus Christ plays for Chelsea - that's what one in five children thinks
Transfer Talk: Nemanja Vidic to return to Manchester United; Hazard to leave Chelsea; Sunderland want Radamel Falcao
Frank Warren column: Don't bet on Amir Khan landing pay day against Floyd Mayweather
Manchester United transfer news: Kevin Strootman move edges closer
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...