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  • Sire Is Simply Sensational

Sodexo Clarence House Chase (Grade 1) 2m 1f

  • (5yo+, 2m 1f, Class 1, 7 runners)
  • Winner £59,084 2nd £22,260 3rd £11,140 4th £5,565 5th £2,793 6th £1,396 7th £693 8th £357
  • Going: Heavy
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 4m 20.70s
  • Off time: 15:36:09
  • Last Updated: January 18 2014, 18:29 GMT

Gary Moore's Sire De Grugy won the Grade One Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot with his head in his chest.

Sire De Grugy jumps to victory at Ascot
Sire De Grugy jumps to victory at Ascot

Having won three of his four starts this season, the eight year old has emerged as the main contender to Sprinter Sacre's Champion Chase crown and the highest staying chaser in training may well be quaking in his boots after this authoritative display from the new kid on the block.

Given a patient ride by Jamie Moore as Kauto Stone and Hidden Cyclone exchanged blows at the head of affairs, the 5/4 favourite was jumping for fun and travelling strongly.

Market rival Somersby unseated Dominic Elsworth early in the piece to make Sire De Grugy's task a little easier but it's hard to think that the result would have been any different.

Moving smoothly through on to the heels of the leaders, Sire De Grugy readily left Hidden Cyclone (whose jumping had been far from impeccable) behind in the straight and only the last stood between him and a second Grade One victory.

The My Risk gelding lived up to his sire's name with a huge leap at that obstacle before coming home fully 11 lengths clear of the Irish raider.

The winning jockey, who admitted "he was having a laugh at them" approaching the final two fences, said: "This is all about the horse - some of the jumps he put in were spectacular. He was magic today, all the credit to the horse. Today he felt as good as he has ever felt.

"Sprinter Sacre is a great horse, but today was his most impressive performance. I'm not saying he'll beat the other horse (Sprinter Sacre), but he could do."

When asked if he was the best he had ever ridden, Moore replied: "I rode Well Chief, he was very, very good. Sire De Grugy does look like him, as a chestnut with a big white face. I'm not sure he's as good as Well Chief yet but he's getting there."

Gary Moore added: "He has got his quirks because he's French. When he first came to us he was a very free horse. Jamie's done a great job and settled him now.

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  • Sire De Grugy jumped for fun in the Clarence House Chase
  • and landed running at Ascot
  • Leaving Jamie Moore to look around for non-existent dangers
  • Jamie Moore, not surprisingly, looks like he's walking on air
  • As, too, does Naas bumper winner Killultagh Vic
All the best images from the cards at Ascot and Naas

"He has a cross noseband on because he's quirky. We could probably do away with that now but we won't. He's settled down lovely and he switched off great. His great asset is his jumping.

"I don't think the ground is as heavy as people thought. They've gone a good gallop and made it a true-run race. Fair play to the horse. This is only his second season as a chaser, at the end of the day. He was a novice last year.

"He's got to go for the Champion Chase. I think he's an improving horse and I've got nearly two months to freshen him up. I'll give him a nice break for a couple of weeks then we'll bring him back purposely for the Champion Chase. He deserves to be in it."

Sky Bet cut the winner to 3/1 from 7/2 for the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase and spokesman Michael Shinners said: "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."

The runner-up could have another crack at Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham with trainer Shark Hanlon delighted with the performance.

"He was beaten by a very good horse. We thought he wanted softer ground, but Andrew (McNamara, jockey) felt he jumped better on better ground," he said.

"He's better going the other way and it's more than likely that he'll go for the Queen Mother."

Dominic Elsworth said of Somersby: "He just got a bit close to the fence, screwed it, and then slithered on landing at one of the downhill fences. It was one of those things. I'm okay and the horse is okay so we live to go another day."

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