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Sire De Grugy is not as good at Cheltenham…Fact or Fiction?

| 24.02.2014

Sire De Grugy has done nothing wrong this season and is the natural successor to Sprinter Sacre as Champion Chaser. Victories in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase and Clarence House Chase have established him at the top of the pecking order.

Yet, bookmakers are easing him out in the betting rather than shortening him up. The theory is that he has been beaten on both previous visits to Prestbury Park and is not suited by the track.

There are further concerns that he is better on a softer surface but how much justification is there for this opposition to the favourite? As far as the going is concerned, he has won four times on good ground and twice on good to soft.

Gary Moore acknowledges that he handles soft ground better than most and he was particularly impressive at Ascot in heavy ground last month. Even so, a repeat of his good ground victory in the Tingle Creek would arguably be good enough in the Champion Chase,

His two previous visits to Cheltenham both resulted in defeat. In 2012 he was beaten two lengths by Captain Conan in a novice chase and in November he was beaten three and a quarter lengths by Kid Cassidy.

In his defence, the 2012 race was only his second over fences and he took off too soon at some of the early fences. When beaten by Kid Cassidy he stumbled on landing over the fourth and was over exuberant at a couple of fences in the home straight.

Those mistakes may have left him with nothing in the tank for the closing stages. There is certainly no reason to say that he is not as effective going left-handed as he has won at Chepstow, Lingfield and Stratford.

Sire De Grugy is the best horse in the race on official ratings. A clear round of jumping should see him arrive full of running at the second last. Only by powering up the Cheltenham hill will he finally silence the doubters.

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Harvey Mayson