A new Champion to be crowned in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the second day of Cheltenham Festival 2014
With Sprinter Sacre sidelined for the season, the Queen Mother Champion Chase looks open to a new Champion to be crowned. Gary Moore’s Sire De Grugy has progressed in an impressive manner and looks set to step up to Champion status. His detractors point to his defeat by Kid Cassidy at the course before Christmas as their evidence, but there is no doubt the chaser has improved since that race. It is worth remembering that when the mighty Sprinter Sacre was still in the frame and quoted at odds on prices, Sire De Grugy was as short as 9/4.
Today he has drifted to around 3/1 without Sprinter Sacre, which represents massive value. The danger to his coronation is likely to be the former Champion Sizing Europe if he is back to form.
David Pipe yesterday had a surprise winner of the Arkle and is certain to do well with his more fancied runners – Red Sherlock (Neptune) and Dell’Arca (Coral Cup).
With Rebecca Curtis’s yard back in form don’t be surprised if the highly regarded O’Faolain’s Boy runs better than his price would suggest. Fourth last year in the Albert Bartlett he has the class and ability to be a real contender in the RSA.
Trainer Tony Martin is a master planner and stands an excellent chance of taking the Champion Bumper with Golantilla. Connections seem happy with his last run and expect a bold show.
The Irish are also counting on Big Shu to win another Cross Country, where Diamond Harry and Hey Big Spender could be his main threats.
Nicky Henderson gave Dawalan as his bet of the meeting a few weeks ago. With such an endorsement he cannot be overlooked in the Fred Winter.
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Sire De Grugy (Queen Mother Champion Chase 3.20)
Improving throughout this season and brilliant when at his best last time out at Ascot beating the useful Hidden Cyclone. Moore’s horse may have be defeated at the course earlier in the season, but he has come on again since that day at Cheltenham. Without the imperious Sprinter Sacre expect this new champion to be crowned.
Crockford’s Whisper – Dell’Arca e/w (Coral Cup 2.40)
There has been a strong whisper surrounding this horse for the last few months, with the Festival always named as his target. Successful first time out for his trainer in the Greatwood and a notable second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, a place seems within his grasp in the Coral Cup.
Crockford’s Champion Chase Day Gambles:
Neptune (1.30) – Red Sherlock and Fennell Bay e/w
RSA (2.05) – Carlingford Lough e/w and O’Faolain’s Boy e/w
Coral Cup (2.40) – Dell’Arca e/w, Calculated Risk e/w and Dunguib e/w
Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20) – Sire De Grugy and Sizing Europe e/w
Cross Country (4.00) – Big Shu, Diamond Harry e/w and Hey Big spender e/w
Fred Winter (4.40) – Dawalan, Ivan Grozny e/w and Le Fin Bois e/w
Champion Bumper (5.15) – Golantilla e/w, El Namoose e/w and Seven National Army e/w
(Featured Photograph – Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)