This Saturday (7 February 2015) National Hunt Star and 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy will make a much-anticipated return to action in the Betfair Price Rush Chase at Newbury (Game Spirit), after coming back from injury.
But what is the horse like and how did he end up at Gary Moore’s West Sussex yard? We give you the low down.
A birthday treat
When owner Steve Preston turned 50 his friends and family teamed up to buy him a racehorse.
“They had all put money into a bank account — which they told me I had to spend on a horse,” he says.
“I’d always wanted to own a racehorse but never had the justification before. So I approached Gary Moore, who said he’d take a 25% share, as long as he made the rules.
“He found a good horse in France, but at E50k I needed a couple of friends to join me in ownership. We went for it and it’s been an absolute dream, I’ve had so much fun. I’m really excited just thinking about this season — even if he’s beaten he’s been fantastic and has fulfilled everything we could have hoped for.”
A one-man horse
At home the only person other than jockey Jamie Moore to sit on the horse is Jamie’s three-year-old daughter.
And he has only been ridden in a race once by someone other than Jamie — at Aintree in 2012 when he was partnered by Jamie’s brother Joshua.
“If it were 100 years ago Sire De Grugy would be the ideal horse to go into battle with — he does all you ask of him,” says Jamie. “There wouldn’t be a day goes by that I don’t ride him and I know him inside out.”
The gelding will have a home for life after his racing days are over.
“Jamie’s already asked to have him when he reties and of course I’ve said yes,” says owner Steve.
“He’d be the best boxer in the world…”
Sire De Grugy is apparently not a fan of clipping — and woe betide anyone who touches his back legs.
“He’s got a great temperament though he can be tricky if people annoy him,” says Jamie. “He’s not so keen on my dad as he knows he clips him, and he’s not a fan of the farrier, but he seems to likes me!”
Dad Gary adds: “He’s a fantastic horse to train — he’s good at everything. He’s especially good at picking up his back legs. If he was a boxer he would be the best in the world with the range of power from those legs…”
Champion Chase victory
The most famous victory for the nine-year-old by My Risk came in last March’s Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Surrounded by his army of owners in red, blue and white scarves he received a fittingly uproarious welcome into the winners’ enclosure.
“At the beginning of the season he was 66-1 to win the Champion Chase. I put 20 on almost for fun — for that to happen was unreal,” says Steve.
And jockey Jamie Moore wasn’t left out — his weighing room colleagues abandoned their posts and ran out to the paddock to hoist aloft the winning rider.
Even Jamie’s brother, leading Flat jockey Ryan Moore, was there to celebrate. “It must have been special as he doesn’t go to much,” laughs Jamie.
Don’t miss our full racing report from Newbury in the 12 February issue of Horse & Hound magazine