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Now is the best time to back Sire De Grugy for the Champion Chase

| 05.02.2015

We’ve already had the return of one star two-miler this year, and now the defending champion Sire De Grugy is the one ready to strut his stuff back on a race track after 10 months off.

Like Sprinter Sacre’s reappearance, a lot will hinge on how he goes in the Game Spirit Chase, with the market for the Queen Mother Champion Chase likely to get a shake-up of sorts, regardless of the result.

Win well and the current 9/2 shot could be heading for favouritism for Cheltenham Festival’s Wednesday feature.

It might not even take a comprehensive victory to see his price clipped in a smidgen.

One thing is for sure, jockey Jamie Moore will not be treating this race as merely a prep for the big day next month:

“He’ll get every ounce from me. I’m not going to be preserving him for Cheltenham, as that’s five weeks away”, he told the Racing Post.

In theory, he should be winning the Newbury contest at 80% of his best, with Uxizandre, the next highest rated horse a full 11lbs behind him on official rankings.

At the likely short price, there won’t be much room for manoeuvre if fitness tells, but his rider isn’t concerned about his long layoff.

“He’s fitter now than when he won at Chepstow first time out last season”, Moore stated.

His jockey is confident, but his father, the horse’s trainer Gary issued some words of warning earlier this week;

“Don’t get me wrong he’ll come on for the run and there’s still a bit left to work on, but he’s fit enough to do himself justice”, he said.

Defeat in similar terms to the one handed out to Nicky Henderson’s superstar at Ascot last month will likely see his price pushed out a point or so, but probably won’t go much bigger in the betting.

For those who fancy the horse to do the double at Cheltenham, backing him now at 9/2 could be the shrewdest move.

If he’s back at his best, he should waltz the 2m1f contest, and that will only send his odds tumbling.

The drift in the event of him losing is unlikely to warrant the risk of waiting and his price crashing in the event of a win in Berkshire.

Underrated last year, so much so that he was allowed to go off at 11/4, that price could be a pipedream if the likeable chestnut bounds clear up Newbury’s long straight.

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

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.