Please sir, can I have some Moore?

  • Last Updated: March 12 2014, 14:07 GMT

So we can't agree on the going, or whether yesterday's track records really were track records (who would have thought there could be two or more ways to calculate a winning time), but we can agree that Sire De Grugy is a favourite we can get beaten in today's BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase, right?

Will Cheltenham be raising a glass to the Moore family?
Will Cheltenham be raising a glass to the Moore family?

After all, he doesn't like the track, he wants more cut in the ground and in Sprinter Sacre's absence, he's beaten very little this season.

It's just a case of going through the field to find the right one.

Arvika Ligeonniere is a bit brittle and doesn't want to go left-handed, so we can put a line through that one, while Baily Green's 33/1 second in last season's Arkle looks a bit of a flash in the pan in the context of a lot of other recent defeats.

Captain Conan looked soft in last season's Ryanair and comes here on the back of an interrupted preparation, a liver problem and a comprehensive defeat at the hands of the favourite.

Let's keep looking though because although Kid Cassidy has problems not of his own making and barely lifted a leg at Leopardstown last time, there must be something to beat the favourite with.

Module's defeat of Dodging Bullets received only a lukewarm boost in yesterday's Arkle and even his very best efforts leave him requiring improvement, while the venerable Somersby has come up short at the very highest level on almost every occasion.

Special Tiara gets his ground but was surely flattered when beating trees and out-of-form horses at Aintree last April, while stablemate Sizing Europe, although a Festival favourite, is as old as the hills and the application of first-time cheekpieces looks an understandable response to a rare rank bad effort last time out.

Wishfull Thinking has been plagued by problems - possibly with his breathing and possibly between his ears - throughout his career and his greatest previous claim to fame in this race was taking out a poorly-positioned snapper when he fell two years ago.

A highly-talented novice chaser is well entitled to take his chance in an open renewal of the Champion Chase but there isn't yet compelling evidence to suggest that Hinterland is a star in waiting. Grandouet, beaten a neck in the Henry VIII, hardly flew the flag for him when sixth in the Arkle.

So what's left? What's this? A much-improved, multiple Grade One winner in the form of his life and available at 3/1 and bigger as bookmakers push him out to try and get him the book? Yes, step forward Sire De Grugy, the winner of this year's Champion Chase.

Don't get hung up over his previous form at the track - he's an improved and more professional performer since then. This race won't be run at a crawl with Special Tiara and Sizing Europe in the field and Sire De Grugy should have the race set up to suit his late challenge.

I hear plenty of caution over his prospects from trainer and jockey, but how refreshing to hear something other than 'He's going to take all the beating'. It's almost as if the Moores don't believe they deserve this. But victory would be a fully deserved crowning glory for one of racing's most underappreciated and talented families.

Of course, I could be wrong. I certainly was on the first day and I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of having visited the barber for a trim yesterday morning. Did he cut my punting powers away? Will I be requiring extensions by Friday?

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh unleashed a bright talent in Vautour in the opening contest on Tuesday and could well repeat the trick with Faugheen in today's first race, the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (After yesterday's results, I think I could do with some investment management).

Unbeaten in every sphere so far, he has always been rumoured to tower above his team-mates at home and if that's the case, he could prove the ace of aces despite a strong-looking field lining up in opposition.

Cup Final looks an interesting contender for Tony McCoy in that race, the champion having endured a tough start to the Festival on the first day. He won't have accepted defeat on My Tent Or Yours with a cheery smile and afterwards had to contend with bad luck in running aboard Cockney Sparrow and a horse in Pendra who seemed to want to take the Cheltenham fences home with him as a souvenir.

Never mind good going - for some Cheltenham is just tough going, but don't bank upon AP settling for seconds and thirds for much longer this week.


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