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Sire win makes Moores so very merry


Powering ahead: Sire De Grugy leaps towards victory under Jamie Moore in the Queen Mother Champion Chase yesterday

Powering ahead: Sire De Grugy leaps towards victory under Jamie Moore in the Queen Mother Champion Chase yesterday

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Powering ahead: Sire De Grugy leaps towards victory under Jamie Moore in the Queen Mother Champion Chase yesterday

Sire De Grugy was a worthy winner of a race that had threatened to disappoint. He looked uncomfortable at times early on, but Jamie Moore never panicked, allowing his mount to find his feet on ground that was probably quick enough for him.

He eventually found his rhythm before hitting the front two out after Moore tracked the leaders down the hill, and stormed home to dispel fears over his ability to handle the course. With Sprinter Sacre absent, it was good that the best horse in the race won so emphatically.

Somersby had vied for the lead throughout with Arvika Ligeonniere and Special Tiara, so it was a fantastic turn by him to hold on for second. He and Sizing Europe both did their bit for the veteran contingent, as the 2011 champion ran his heart out in fourth.

There was something reassuringly familiar about the sight of him looming on the outer down the hill.

He didn't have the legs to sustain it from the turn, but he kept them honest to then.

Module came through from behind to snatch third, as Special Tiara wilted into fifth. He should have fallen at the second so he deserves credit for still being in there pitching until two-out.

Arvika Ligeonniere dropped tamely out on ground that was too quick for him.

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The groundswell of public affection towards the Moore family – Sire De Grugy is trained by jockey Jamie's father Gary – caused an eruption in the stands as loud as any Irish banker, and their standing in the British racing community could be measured by seeing nearly every one of the jockeys not involved in the race lining up next to the winner's enclosure to welcome them back.

If the chestnut needed to offer any more proof of his position as this season's top two-miler, it came with yet another demonstration of neat jumping, speed and courage as he crushed Somersby and Module by six lengths.

Jockey Jamie is a chip off the old block of his father Gary, both popular through their approachability and modesty, but neither accustomed to success at anywhere near this class.

The horse himself was an inexpensive purchase and belongs to a lower-profile owner than most rubbing shoulders in a Queen Mother in Steve Preston, who had never owned a horse before and was only coerced into the exercise when his friends and family secretly deposited money into a bank account for his 50th birthday.

They wildly waved their red and blue scarves, while trying his best to melt into the background but smiling proudly nonetheless was Jamie Moore's brother Ryan, the world-renowned Flat jockey.

Sire De Grugy will always be dogged by the fact last season's champion Sprinter Sacre has been sidelined, but he could have done no more during the campaign but roll off Grade One victories at Sandown and Ascot, as well as win the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in which Sprinter Sacre capitulated.

He was sent off a surprisingly generous 11-4 favourite, with dissenting voices hanging on his defeats in two previous course starts, but in essence it was a straightforward march to the line as Moore hung back from the fierce pace set by Special Tiara, Somersby and Arvika Ligeonniere and let fly at the second-last.

"It annoys me that people don't give him the credit he deserves. It was all about Sprinter Sacre and someone wrote the other day that this race should be done under the trade descriptions act because the Queen Mother Chase isn't right," said Moore snr.

"There's a lot of people who deserve thanks for this. I have never had so many text messages – it started at six o'clock this morning – and at half six I got a call from the champion Flat trainer-elect (Richard Hannon jnr) wishing me good luck. I am just glad he has won for them as much as anyone else.

"It's Jamie's first Festival winner and the guard of honour the lads gave to Jamie meant a lot. It just proves what a popular person he is.

"And seeing Ryan (Moore) there as well. It probably has been done before but I haven't seen it done for a long time."

On future plans, Moore added: "We'll see how he is over the next few days, but I wouldn't mind running him at Sandown in April."

Gary Moore's father Charlie was also a trainer, and he worked from ramshackle premises in Brighton before moving to upmarket Horsham.

He was, for once, visibly emotional and had no real idea why Sire's win was such a popular result.

He went on: "I don't know really, I'm a horrible person. I suppose I'm quite honest.

"The horse is such a professional and very easy to train. He did tread on a stone 10 days ago, which was a bit of a worry, but he was right the next day."

Preston was mobbed by well-wishers. "It's unbelievable," he said. "Everyone wanted this horse to be beaten for the last two weeks and he's proved them all wrong. He's shown top-class."

Jamie Moore said: "These days don't come around for a jockey like myself and today it has done.

"We're a very close family and I'm glad I can tell my daughters that I've achieved something."

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