Horse racing: ‘Problem pair’ out to reclaim Chase title

Sire De Grugy.

Sire De Grugy.

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Former winners Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy headline 12 horses still in contention for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday.

Sprinter Sacre was a scintillating winner of the two-mile championship in 2013.

And although a heart problem prevented him from defending his crown 12 months ago, Nicky Hendrson’s stable star is ready to return to Prestbury Park in a bid to regain the title.

Sire De Grugy, the undoubted star of the division last season in Sprinter Sacre’s absence, has suffered his own problems this term.

Gary Moore’s nine-year-old disappointed on his comeback in the Game Spirit at Newbury, but got back on track with a fine weight-carrying performance at Chepstow last month.

And the trainer reports his charge in rude health following a trip to the beach on Thursday morning.

Speaking in his Betway blog, Moore said: “We decided to take Sire De Grugy and the rest of my Cheltenham runners to West Wittering beach this morning as part of their final preparation for next week.

“It’s something I like to do when a big race is coming up, so we thought we would do it again as it didn’t do us any harm 12 months ago.

“He travelled first thing this morning and stretched his legs on an empty beach with the other runners.

“Jamie (Moore) led them all down to the shallows on Sire De Grugy and they broke into a gentle trot. It’s a real treat for the horses as it gives them another interest.

“It’s a chance for them to think about other things rather than racing.

“Jamie said he loved every minute of it and just couldn’t take his eyes off the sea, he was mesmerised by it all.

“We’ve less than a week to go until the Betway Champion Chase now and the plan is to school him tomorrow morning, work him again on Saturday morning and then that’ll be it.”

Paul Nicholls fires a formidable twin assault with Game Spirit winner Mr Mole joined by Tingle Creek and Clarence House Chase hero Dodging Bullets.

Willie Mullins’ dual Festival scorer Champagne Fever heads the Irish challenge.

Henry de Bromhead is leaving in both Special Tiara and the veteran Sizing Europe.

Gordon Elliott’s novice Clarcam, the Tony Martin-trained Savello, Alan King’s Balder Succes, Nicky Richards’ Simply Ned and Somersby from the Mick Channon yard complete the impressive-looking list of race runners.

Frankie Dettori. PIC: Julian Herbert/PA Wire

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