Sire makes bookies take notice
The bookies make Sire De Grugy a serious BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase contender following an impressive victory at Ascot on Saturday.
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The major layers all cut Gary Moore's charge after his victory in the Sodexo Clarence House Chase and the prices now suggest the horse could well start favourite as doubts remain over Sprinter Sacre's participation.
Sky Bet will give you 3/1, as will Paddy Power, youwin and Racebets.
Reigning champion Sprinter Sacre, pulled up with a heart problem at Kempton last month, is due to go straight to the Cheltenham Festival but his participation remains subject to fitness which will be a worry for backers at this stage.
Sprinter Sacre was pushed out following Sire De Grugy's run with Boylesports going even money about a repeat win for Nicky Henderson's star.
BetVictor are among the firms who offer the non-runner, no bet proviso. They have Sprinter Sacre at 4/6.
Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths was very impressed by Sire De Grugy saying: "Sire De Grugy couldn't have been more impressive this afternoon. He's far and away the most likely to pick up the pieces if Sprinter Sacre fails to bring his A-game to Cheltenham."
Rory Jiwani, of Stan James, echoed those sentiments, saying: "On today's showing, the reigning champion will need to be close to his best."
However, Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners was a little more cautious. "It was hard not to be impressed by that performance and it was arguably a career best so we've had to trim his price.
"However, there may not have been too much depth to the race and it remains to be seen whether he can get the better of a peak form Sprinter Sacre at Cheltenham and Nicky Henderson's stable star remains the one to beat despite his travails this season."
Meanwhile, Melodic Rendezvous won the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock and was cut as short as 16/1 for the showpiece race of the Festival's opening day.
Paddy Power went 16s but 888sport were prepared to dangle 40/1 in the wake of victory.
Jiwani added: "This was much more like it from Jeremy Scott's stable star who wasn't right in the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and we cut him from 40/1 to 20/1 for the StanJames Champion Hurdle in March."
Shinners, whose firm cut their price from 33/1 to 25s, said: "We're still happy to take a few quid on Melodic Rendezvous for the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
"He's a classy horse but seems to be at his best when the mud is flying and conditions are likely to be considerably faster at Cheltenham."
The Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle is still struggling to find a favourite after Zamdy Man edged out Un Temps Pour Tout in the Trial in testing Haydock conditions.
The sponsors to cut him to 25/1 from 33s but Paddy Power were left offering the latter price.
Sky Bet's Shinners said: "David Pipe's expensive purchase Un Temps Pour Tout was the real buzz horse coming into this but you can't fault Zamdy Man's attitude in the gruelling conditions.
"It was a game performance and they pulled well clear but it didn't scream Sky Bet Supreme winner to me and the ground is likely to be very different at Cheltenham in March."
Rule The World is as short as 14/1 for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle after winning the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.
Paddy Power and bet365 both moved into 14s having been impressed by what was a comfortable victory for the Gigginstown House Stud horse.
However, 25/1 is generally available.
The market is still led by four-time winner Big Buck's at 5/2. Paul Nicholls' star is due to make his comeback from injury next weekend at Cheltenham following a year out through injury.
Away from the Championship races, Taquin Du Seuil was made co-favourite for the JLT Novices' Chase (formerly the Jewson) with some firms after winning at Haydock.
However, trainer Jonjo O'Neill warned punters: "We'll put him in all three races at Cheltenham (Arkle, JLT and RSA) and he might run in the Scilly Isles at Sandown (February 1) next."
William Hill cut their price abut the horse winning any race at the Festival from 8/1 to 7/1 which may appeal more given O'Neill's comments.
Meanwhile, Foxrock went favourite for the National Hunt Chase in places after a good win at Naas - bet365 still offer 10/1.