03/10/2014 12:04PM

Cheltenham: Sire De Grugy favored in Queen Mother Champion Chase


Sire De Grugy, a winner of eight of 11 career starts in steeplechases, is favored to win the richest race of his career in Wednesday’s $581,000 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham Racecourse in western England.

An 8-year-old gelding, Sire De Grugy was the 9-4 favorite Monday for the Champion Chase, the top race of the year for two-mile steeplechasers in England. The Champion Chase, which drew a field of 11, is the featured race on the second of four consecutive days of Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival.

Sire De Grugy has risen to the fore of the two-mile chase division with three consecutive wins in Grade 1 and Grade 2 races since early December. His most recent loss was a second to Queen Mother runner Kid Cassidy in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November. Wednesday’s race will be Sire De Grugy’s third career start at Cheltenham. He was second in a novice chase there in November 2012 to Captain Conan, who is part of Wednesday’s field.

Captain Conan has not raced since finishing third to Sire De Grugy in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Trophy over two miles at Sandown Park in December.

Ireland’s leading hope is Arvika Ligeonniere, who has won three of his last four starts but was pulled up in the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham last March. The senior member of the field is the 12-year-old Sizing Europe, who won the 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase and has been second in the last two years. He was a 14-1 outsider as of Monday.

One horse missing from the field is 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sprinter Sacre, who was taken out of training last month after trainer Nicky Henderson said he was not pleased with the 8-year-old's progress.