Moore hoping Sire De Grugy can return to best at Exeter
Former Champion Chaser Sire De Grugy makes his seasonal bow in an interesting renewal of the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter today.
Veteran trainer Gary Moore hopes to return the nine-year-old to winning ways after a disappointing 2014-15 season. Sire De Grugy won a minor race at Chepstow before finishing a lacklustre fourth to Dodging Bullets, when trying to retain his two-mile crown at Cheltenham, and falling at Aintree.
"It's a tough race - there are three or four good ones in there," Moore said. "The track will suit him perfectly and he's in great form. I'm hopeful of a big run, he's very fit and if he gets beat it won't be for fitness. I would like to see some rain though. Softer ground would help."
Sire De Grugy has to give weight away all round, including 7lb to last year's winner, God's Own, and 10lb to the Paul Nicholls-trained Vibrato Valtat which won four times as a novice last season.
The former, trained by Tom George and winner of the race last year when still a novice, might not be seen at his best on ground that has softened in recent days.
However, his trainer is confident of a bold showing from the mount of Paddy Brennan (left).
"He's had a good preparation," said George. "It's been his target for a while and he prefers a right-hand track. He got stuck in the mud after winning this last year. We gave him a break and he came back to finish second to Un De Sceaux in the Arkle and Sizing Granite at Aintree.
Meanwhile, last season's King George hero Silviniaco Conti ran a creditable second to Brother Tedd over hurdles at Kempton yesterday as the Nicholls-trained chestnut warmed up for his bid to win a third Betfair Chase.
"I'm thrilled," Nicholls said. "Noel Fehily said he felt as good as ever. He had a good blow afterwards and I've got just over two weeks to get him right."
Alan King's Smad Place is to head for the Hennessy at Newbury later this month after his victory in the Graduation Chase.