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Sire De Grugy the star turn as he bids for repeat success
25 Nov 2017 | Racingpost.com 

Shawbrook Handicap Chase | 2m1f | ITV/RUK

A £100,000 pot is up for grabs in Ascot's Shawbrook Handicap Chase but only eight horses line up, four of whom ran in the race 12 months ago, including the first, second and third.

There is no doubt, however, who the most popular winner would be.

Indeed, Sire De Grugy is one of the most popular horses in training. While the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase hero may not quite be the force of old, he was good enough to defy top weight last year and now attempts to do so again, although this time off a 5lb higher mark.

"I think he's as good as he was last year," said trainer Gary Moore, whose stable pin-up managed a distant third in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his seasonal return.

"I didn't know what to expect at Ffos Las but I think the horse just ran as well as he could.

"Ideally I'd have liked to have seen him finish closer. You could say that perhaps he's not as good as he was. I think he is though. He's come to life in the last couple of weeks, which is typical of him."

Last season's second, Quite By Chance, has run three cracking races at Ascot, including when runner-up in a similar event 21 days ago.

"This has always been our target," said trainer Colin Tizzard.

"He's in cracking form. The ground and trip will be fine, and although Sire De Grugy beat him last year there wasn't much in it. My fella is probably in the form of his life and has every chance."

 

Vaniteux, photo Liesl King

 

Vaniteux has been beaten a total of 73 lengths in two outings since leaving Nicky Henderson's yard, but David Pipe does not sound downbeat.

The trainer said of the 2016 third: "He just got stuck in the mud at Cheltenham last week and in hindsight we should have come straight here.

"The race doesn't seem to have taken anything out of him and there are only eight runners here with £100,000 prize-money on offer."

A non-runner in that Cheltenham contest last week was Champion Chase third Sir Valentino.

"We thought we'd wait for this and hopefully he'll get better ground," said trainer Tom George, adding: "When everything is going for him he's a very good horse."

Paul Nicholls runs the smart San Benedeto, and said: "He ran a blinder the other day – probably a career-best – in the Haldon Gold Cup. He loves Ascot and Bryony [Frost] takes a handy 5lb off."

 

 
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