In the absence of superstar Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy takes centre stage as he bids to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Having already picked up the Grade 1 Tingle Creek, the Desert Orchid and the Clarence House Chase this season the Gary Moore trained eight-year-old is the 9/4 favourite for glory but his Cheltenham record is a slight cause for concern.
On both his starts at the Prestbury Park he has finished second and in November Jamie Moore’s ride was just behind Kid Cassidy, a 10/1 shot for the Champion Chase.
But Sire de Grugy has plenty on his side with nine of the last 13 winners contesting the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and 11 of the last 12 victors picking up a Grade 1 success previously.
But 19 of the last 29 winners have won at the Festival before and Captain Conan and Sizing Europe both fit the bill for that trend.
The former was seven lengths behind Sire de Grugy at Sandown in December but was making her reappearance that day and Nicky Henderson’s charge does have winning form over his rival.
Barry Geraghty’s partner was too strong when staying on to beat Moore’s stable star at Cheltenham early last season.
Sizing Europe is an old favourite at the Festival and is the 2011 winner of this contest but there has only been one winner aged older than 10-years-old since 1977.
Moscow Flyer won as an 11-year-old but you have to go back to Skymas 37 years ago to find a winner older than 10 and that trend would also rule out Phillip Hobbs’ Wishful Thinking and Somersby.
The Irish have had some recent success in this race having won five of the last 11 runnings and alongside Sizing Europe and Somersby. Baily Green and Kid Cassidy lead the charge.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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