Gary Moore’s current purple patch is testament to the highs and lows of our great sport.
Since sustaining a painful injury at his Sussex stables which saw him hospitalized for several days, the fortunes of the yard have turned dramatically, culminating in yet another treble at Sandown on Saturday, including victory in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek for stable star Sire De Grugy.
Travelling with far greater verve than when last seen at Exeter, and spring-heeled at his fences, the nine-year-old was sent to the lead at the Railway Fences and looked to have the race in safe keeping turning for home. However, Special Tiara renewed his challenge and at the final fence the two collided mid-air before Sire De Grugy pulled out more towards the finish.
The impact at the last was substantial and there’s certainly a strong case for the result having been reversed by the stewards. Ultimately the result stood and Gary Moore along with the exuberant connections were able to commence celebrations. The relieved trainer said: “He has put Devon behind him and one or two runs last season. Hopefully he can progress from today. When he jumped the ditch the first time he was positive at it. In my mind this ranks higher than winning the Champion Chase. Everybody seems to make Cheltenham the be all and end all, but I don't and to me this is as good as winning at Cheltenham.”
Henry De Bromhead, trainer of the runner-up, was rather less than impressed with the result, saying: “He should have won, obviously he was coming to win the race and the other horse took him out, it was as simple as that. I was delighted with his run, and we will decide where we go next when we get home.”
That final fence drama should not detract from a wonderful performance from Moore’s fella. The ex-champion is certainly back to something like his best, though down the line may well find a certain Un De Sceaux plying his trade at a different level.
Back in third on Saturday was Vibrato Valtat. At a track he clearly enjoys, and with conditions appearing to be in his favour, he just came up short. Outpaced by Sire De Grugy he briefly closed turning in, but was then put in his place by the front two. At the age of six there is time for further improvement, but it’s likely he’s simply not quite good enough in this type of company.
Earlier on the card Moore had saddled the winner of the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, when Ar Mad caused something of an upset with an outstanding front running display. Wonderfully slick over his obstacles, he set strong fractions before staying on well to run out a 10 length winner. He has to go right handed, and his trainer was quick to dismiss the Cheltenham Festival as an end of season target.
A pair of Grade 1 victories and trebles on consecutive days at the Esher track was a truly exceptional performance from the Sussex handler and his team. Few would grudge one of racing’s most likeable families every bit of their well-earned success.