Kempton dangle carrot to Sire De Grugy
Kempton have dangled a golden Christmas carrot for the owners of Sire De Grugy by boosting the Desert Orchid Chase prize money by £20,000.
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The race takes place on Friday 27 December - day two of the William Hill Winter Festival - and will hopefully include the Nicky Henderson-trained superstar Sprinter Sacre.
However Sire De Grugy - who is the top two mile chaser to have run this season - is scheduled to head for the £105,000 Clarence House Chase at Ascot on January 18 instead.
Trainer Gary Moore said: 'I don't see too much point taking on Sprinter Sacre and finishing second and not getting much for it. If we are going to do that, I'd rather give it a go at Ascot.'
Moore will be interested to read the news coming out of Kempton, although the Ascot race is still £25,000 more valuable.
Clerk of the course Barney Clifford denied that the prize-money boost was a direct incentive to lure connections of Sire De Grugy and other potential rivals, although he did admit that Gary Moore's comments about the relative values of the race and the Ascot contest had "borne out" the decision to increase the prize pool.
"Obviously, we want to make the race as competitive as possible, and although it's wonderful that Sprinter Sacre is coming, we thought it important to take this step and try and encourage the overall quality of the race," he said.
"We're looking to build the quality of the second day as a whole and this fits in with that aim. It was important to get that message out and make this announcement the day before the entries were made."