03/09/2015 2:29PM

Three seek second Mother Champion Chase win


CHELTENHAM, England – Experience may be required to win Wednesday’s $532,000 Queen Mother Champion Chase at two miles over fences at Cheltenham Racecourse.

The field of three includes three former winners – Sizing Europe, the 13-year-old who won the race in 2011; and two 9-year-olds – Sprinter Sacre, the 2013 winner; and Sire de Grugy, who won last year.

There are 11 runners in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the top race on the second of the four-day National Hunt festival, which continues through Friday.

Sprinter Sacre, trained by Nicky Henderson, was the slight favorite as of Monday, at 5-2, but has a lot to prove in his second start in the last 12 months. Sprinter Sacre’s Champion Chase win in 2013 was the eighth victory of a 10-race winning streak that ended in December 2013 when he was pulled up in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park, near London.

Subsequent tests revealed an abnormal heart beat. He did not start again in 2014. In his lone start this year, Sprinter Sacre was second to Champion Chase contender Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Jan. 17.

Sire de Grugy has won six of his last seven starts, with the only blemish occurring at Newbury Racecourse last month when he blundered through a fence and unseated jockey Jamie Moore. Sire de Grugy rebounded to win a minor handicap chase against three rivals at Chepstow Racecourse in Wales on Feb. 21.

Sire de Grugy is trained by Gary Moore, the father of champion flat jockey Ryan Moore. Last weekend, Jamie Moore gave Sire de Grugy a day at the beach. The gelding was one of several Moore-trained horses who had a day of exercise in the tide and on the sand on England’s south coast.

A win by Sizing Europe would be a huge surprise. He was sixth in his last start, at Clonmel Racecourse in Ireland last November, and was listed as a 33-1 to 50-1 chance by bookmakers on Monday.