Moore expresses Grugy fitness concerns ahead of comeback
Gary Moore has given a mixed update on Sire De Grugy's progress ahead of his Newbury return on Saturday fortnight, expressing himself happy with the champion chaser's progress but admitting that he isn't as fit as he would like him to be.
The four-time Grade One victor hasn't been seen since winning at Sandown in April, having picked up an injury to his hind quarters in the autumn.
Moore has pencilled in the Game Spirit Chase on February 7 for the nine-year-old's comeback, but yesterday he stressed that his stable star is far from cherry ripe.
"He's not as fit as I'd like at this stage," Moore explained. "He worked this morning and worked well - as long as he improves for his work on Saturday I'll be satisfied, but he did look like he needed the work this morning. I don't think he'll go to Newbury as fit as he can be, but it's not all about Newbury, is it?"
Moore also offered an opinion on Saturday's Ascot protagonists, Dodging Bullets and Sprinter Sacre, ahead of a potentially mouth-watering clash in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
"He didn't fill me with any dread," he said of Sprinter Sacre. "Obviously there are issues going on with the horse but he looked extremely fit and I don't think he blew up - he was probably race-rusty. You can't leave Dodging Bullets out of it. He has taken nearly the same route as us last year and is doing the same as we did. It's not just a two-horse race."
Tony Martin has confirmed that the Betfair Hurdle on the Newbury card is an option for Blair Perrone, which conquered Silver Concorde at Leopardstown before finishing fifth behind Douvan at Punchestown.
Willie Mullins' Daneking, Wicklow Brave and Lucky Bridle are the other Irish entries left in the valuable handicap hurdle after the forfeit stage.
Paul Fahey, meanwhile, has suggested that his consistent novice Lots Of Memories will be trained for the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on April 6.
Officials at Cheltenham remain confident of the track being fit for action on Saturday. Clerk of the course Simon Claisse decided last weekend to cover the track fully due to the current cold snap.