The Big Question – Will Sire De Grugy handle Cheltenham’s Old Course?
In the absence of Sprinter Sacre, this year’s 2m chasing division looked to lack a true superstar, yet this Gary Moore trained eight-year-old readily took up the mantle and showcased his brilliance.
A winner of four of his five starts this season, Sire De Grugy quickly developed into a top quality 2m chaser notching up victories in the Tingle Creek, Desert Orchid and Clarence House Chases.
A trio of victories in Graded races culminated with his latest run at Ascot where he brushed his rivals aside and won by 11 lengths going away.
His talents are there for all to see; his low, accurate jumping perfectly complemented by his smooth travelling style. Added to the fact that he possesses an impressive turn of foot, you could be forgiven for wondering why he is as big as the 2/1 on offer.
Attributes aside however, the form book does read – two starts at Cheltenham and two second place finishes. Yet to win at Prestbury Park he finished runner-up in the 2012 renewal of the Arkle and was beaten just over three lengths by the talented, yet unpredictable, Kid Cassidy in November.
However, despite his course record, It can strongly argued that given the individual circumstances, both his performances at the mecca of National Hunt racing were more than admirable.
When contesting the 2012 Arkle he was far too keen in the early stages and tainted his performance with a number of novice jumps early on. Although he contested the lead after the third last, he fell prey to his rival’s superior turn of foot.
His loss to Kid Cassidy was even more forgivable as he found himself in front far too early on the home straight and despite jumping well, was unable to offset the 10lbs he had to concede.
Having lost both races by just over five lengths it seems a little too premature to argue that he isn’t suited by the demands and characteristics of Cheltenham.
Sire De Grugy has comfortably shown the best 2m form of the season and, without Sprinter Sacre, he is not only a worthy favourite but, at 2/1, he is an overpriced favourite.