Earlier this week I visited Cisswood Stable’s near Lower Beeding to catch up with trainer Gary Moore for whom the 2013/14 National Hunt campaign was his most successful to date.
The key component in yielding a prize money return of over £825,000 across the season was the rise to pre-eminence of Gary’s star two mile chaser Sire De Grugy, whose quality and class allowed the gelding to accumulate four Grade One victories including the two most prestigious events of his division in the Tingle Creek and Queen Mother Champion Chases’.
However, Gary’s thoughts were firmly fixed on the future and not the past when I addressed the magnitude of his achievements over the past twelve months.
“It was great last year, the main thing now is that we do better this coming season. Very important. I do now have probably the nicest bunch of horses’ I’ve ever had. I’m still hoping to add a few more but I’m really looking forward to the new season.”
Gary has 75 jumpers to go into battle with and has made some fascinating additions to his team.
“I have a horse called Clayton that I bought at Newmarket who was rated 105 on the flat and he should be nice. He hasn’t schooled yet but obviously he could be very good. I also bought five very nice individuals from various sales in France so I’m very hopeful.”
The conversation soon turned to the well being of Sire De Grugy who had two chips removed from his joint in a successful operation over the summer.
I asked Gary what programme he had planned for his champion two mile chaser.
“I could of and maybe would of started him off in a handicap again, but the op has set us back a month so he needs a run before the Tingle Creek and if it’s soft ground he’ll go for the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham. If it’s not and I can’t find something else he’ll have a racecourse gallop somewhere. After the Tingle Creek, it’ll be the Desert Orchid, Clarence House and the Queen Mother just like last season. It’s unlikely he would go to Aintree afterwards, not because it would come too soon for the horse but because I like to give him time between races’. I think you can race horses’ far too much. In top grade races, I don’t care what anybody says, your horse always has a hard race because they’re racing against the best of the best and I think they need more time to get over it. He could go to Punchestown, back to the Celebration at Sandown or maybe I could find him something in France. This horse could be even better this year now that the two chips have gone.”
Gary sounded very confident when making that statement and went on to explain the great demeanour and attitude Sire De Grugy has.
“This horse has great presence. Good horses need to have good minds and he has one. He loves life, enjoys life and loves to be at exercise. He wants to work hard and wants to win.”
Former champion Sprinter Sacre will be back this term and presents a formidable opponent for Sire De Grugy but make no mistake, any chinks in his physiology or his mental approach will be ruthlessly exploited by the current champion in whom Gary exudes enormous belief.