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Ascot preview: Sire De Grugy to sink Un De Sceaux in Clarence House Chase

David Metcalf | January 22, 2016

Sire De Grugy looks decent value to get the better of the red-hot favourite Un De Sceaux in a fascinating renewal of the Grade 1 Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot (15.00).

The Gary Moore trained gelding lifted this prize in facile fashion back 2014 when slamming Hidden Cyclone by 11 lengths, before going on to land the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival impressively by six lengths.

Sire De Grugy went on to round off a tremendous campaign with success in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase at Sandown, but then suffered an injury and was way below his best in four starts last season.

However, connections persevered and the 10-year-old has returned to form with a vengeance this campaign.

Sire rated highest in line-up

Cheltenham festival Wednesday

Sire De Grugy showed tremendous battling qualities to land the Tingle Creek at Sandown for a second time on his penultimate outing, digging deep to beat Special Tiara by 3/4 of a length.

He then lost little in defeat last time out when going down by just 3/4 of a length to Sprinter Sacre after a titanic tussle in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, with the pair pulling 3 3/4 lengths of the third home Vibrato Valtat.

Judged on those efforts, Sire De Grugy is as good as ever and remains a real force to be reckoned with. An official rating of 169 means he is the highest rated in the line-up and puts him 1lb clear of main rival Un De Sceaux.

The son of My Risk is also a sound jumper, who is 1-1 at the venue, has proven winning form in testing conditions and, with Jamie Moore in the saddle, looks to have plenty in his favour.

Un De Sceaux the new kid on the block

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Un De Sceaux is considered by many to be the rising star in the 2m chasing ranks, and is currently 6/4 favourite with Coral for the Queen Mother Champion Chase around Prestbury Park on Wednesday, March 16th.

Trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins, the eight year-old has won four of his six completed starts over fences and was very impressive when landing last year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy.

However, he blotted his copybook on seasonal reappearance when falling at the second-last at Leopardstown when still in front and travelling well, so it remains to be seen if that has affected his confidence.

Tearaway tactics a concern

It was not the first time that his tearaway front running tactics had been his downfall, and Un Des Sceaux seems that type that needs to be on the perfect stride at each fence and is not capable of finding a leg to stand up when clouting one.

That has to be a major concern, and what he beat in last year’s Arkle is questionable. Sire De Grugy is by far the classiest animal Un De Sceaux has met over fences, and Gary Moore’s stable star can make his experience tell to come out on top.

Aurore holds all the aces in Mares’ Hurdle

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The other big race on the card which is going to have an impact on the ante post markets for the Cheltenham Festival is the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (13.50), and Aurore D’estruval can build on a promising comeback run to land the spoils.

Aurore D’estruval had some top-class form to her name when trained by John Quinn, winning three of her six starts and finishing a cracking 1 3/4 length runner-up to Irving in the 2014 running of the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Now in the care of Rebecca Curtis, the six-year-old shaped well after 363 days on the sidelines when fourth to Camping Ground in a Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham earlier this month.

Aurore D’estruval only weakened late on after making a mistake to be beaten 21 lengths, and is sure to come on a bundle for the outing.

With the ground ideal, and Barry Geraghty in the saddle, she looks capable of giving 2lb and a beating to Irish raider Vroum Vroum Mag.

Vroum Vroum Mag has plenty to prove

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Vroum Vroum Mag hails from the all conquering Mullins yard and is unbeaten in seven starts for the County Carlow handler.

The seven-year-old is better known as a chaser, but made a winning start to life over hurdles last time out when landing a minor contest at Clonmel when unextended by three lengths.

There is little doubt that Vroum Vroum Mag has a huge engine and bags of potential, but what she has beat so far amounts to very little and this represents a step up in class.

She is also yet to be put under any pressure, and it remains to be seen if the daughter of Voix Du Nord can find anything off the bridle now tackling better battle-hardened opposition.

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Corals top tips

Sire De Grugy has looked as good as ever this season and looks decent value to foil Un De Sceaux in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase.

Aurore D’estruval has some strong form to her name and can inflict a first defeat on Vroum Vroum Mag in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

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