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Cheltenham: Sire De Grugy is our tip of the day in Champion Chase

| 12.03.2014

For a horse that was 5/2 when Sprinter Sacre was set to run, it is amazing to think Sire De Grugy could go off exactly the same price despite the reigning champion’s absence being confirmed long before the conversation started getting serious.

Punters refuse to have Gary Moore’s two-time Grade 1 victor for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, forcing the price, from what was originally near even money after Nicky Henderson’s star was declared to be out for the season, to a weakening 2/1.

Everyone will say ‘he hasn’t done anything wrong’ but he clearly hasn’t done enough for enough to back him – this could be a big mistake.

A Festival-bound jockey said at one of the many Cheltenham preview nights that have peppered the last few weeks that the favourite could “run 7lb below his best and still win”, however, even the deliverer of such a seemingly bullish statement followed it by saying he didn’t think he would.

On almost every other year for the last twenty it would be difficult to argue with the assessment that the eight-year-old couldn’t win. However, such is the widely accepted lack of strength and depth in the field that it looks at the mercy of Jamie Moore’s pride and joy.

Convincing victories his last three races took his record to four from five for the season with the missing performance from that quintet providing the bulk of the doubts.

That one defeat this campaign was at the scene of the Queen Mother and meant that in two visits to Cheltenham he has returned empty-handed both times.

This fact has been seized upon by those wanting to oppose Sire De Grugy using the logic that if he couldn’t win then on the track he won’t win now.

This smacks of lazy dismissal as any lack of affection for the course will be compensated in full if not more by the fact that the race will suit the selection more than any of the ones he has won with contemptuous ease already.

In his last three races Jamie Moore has had his mount relatively handy but connections have always said in a better race with more runners he will be able to get more cover and the desired tow in the contest which is far preferred.

Nothing will travel as strongly when the hill comes into sight and he will finally get an opportunity to journey through the race without the pressure of worrying about the tempo.

There are no shortage of apparent alternatives but they have either been beaten by our tip, been in horrible form or have never shown the ability required.

At 2/1 Sire De Grugy has to be the tip of the day to provide a popular winner in the hearts of many but also a chastening one in the minds for the majority as well.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster