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Sire De Grugy hot favourite for Clarence House Chase at Ascot

Sire De Grugy has jumped into the spotlight this season and his victory in the Tingle Creek at Sandown was arguably the best performance in the 2-mile chasing division. Trainer Gary Moore felt that he would have been even more impressive had the ground been softer and he looks certain to have conditions in his favour this weekend.

Sire De Grugy cut down Nicky Henderson’s Captain Conan between the last two fences before drawing clear of the staying on Somersby. The runner-up has four lengths to make up on Saturday but won this race back in 2012 and looks the biggest danger to the favourite.

Henderson will not make a decision on the future of Sprinter Sacre for another two to three weeks and relies on French Opera here.

The twelve-year-old Oiseau De Nuit finished second at Kempton but it is hard to see him reversing the form with the favourite. Trainer Emma Lavelle bagged a big prize at the weekend with Shotgun Paddy and is considering pitching another novice in against more experienced rivals here with Fox Appeal.

The gelding was most impressive over this course last time when easily accounting for Raya Star and had previously forced Wonderful Charm to pull out all of the stops at Wincanton. He seems equally effective over two and two and a half miles and is an exciting prospect.

French Opera will need the ground to dry out if he is to produce his best form. He ran a great race under a big weight last time at Cheltenham but is held by Sire De Grugy on last season’s Celebration Chase form.

Hidden Cyclone looks to be the pick of the three Irish raiders following his fine run in second behind Benefficient at Leopardstown. He rallied on the run-in to finish just three-quarters of a length behind at the line and had some smart chasers behind him including Kid Cassidy.