By Simon Jackson.
Sire De Grugy added credence to his chances of winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase for a second time with a tenacious victory in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
The success heralded a return to form for the Gary Moore-trained nine-year-old who won the Tingle Creek in 2013 but suffered from jumping errors last season and disappointed on his comeback when finishing last at Exeter in early November.
Yet the 2014 Champion Chase winner looked back to his best on Saturday as he raced close to the pace under Jamie Moore in the Grade 1 contest, before taking it up five fences from home. Special Tiara closed the gap as they approached the last fence where Sire De Grugy jumped left and bumped his rival, causing both horses to lose momentum. The pair rallied well with Moore’s charge maintaining the lead and surviving a stewards’ enquiry to secure victory.
The win was the sixth at the two-day meeting at Sandown for Gary Moore who was quick to pay tribute to the hard work of his staff.
“It’s amazing and testament to the staff at home,” he said. “They work very hard, my vet, my blacksmith, the lad who looks after him, everyone. All that hard work has gone into getting him back.
“Personally I’d liked to have seen Jamie sit a bit longer, as they’d gone hard from a long way, but he knows him better than me.
“He’s like his best mate, when he walks into the yard to tack him up he actually whinnies to him, it’s unbelievable. Apart from his wife and children he’s the love of his life.
“He’ll either go to Kempton [Desert Orchid Chase] or the Clarence House at Ascot next.”
Jamie Moore added: “It’s a lot of credit to the horse; he hasn’t got a routine any more. When I wake up in the morning I think, ‘what shall we do today?’ and he kind of tells us what to do and we have sweetened him up a bit.
Referring to bump at the last fence, he added: “He always jumps left. That is why I went a bit left down the back. He’s jumped a bit left again today at the last. I thought Special Tiara was going to get by me, but he’s toughed it out. He is very genuine. He went again when Special Tiara got to me. This horse is my best mate.”
Sire De Grugy is best-priced at 16-1, but as short as 10-1 for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham on March 16.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.