They should call the family book “The Moore The Merrier.” A month ago trainer Gary Moore was in intensive care. Yesterday former champion Sire De Grugy’s success in the Tingle Creek Chase climaxed Gary’s third Sandown treble in four weeks at Sandown and his second in the last two days. All six were ridden by either Jamie or Josh the younger siblings of older brother Ryan who started Moore magic by winning a 57 million Yen (£327,000) race in Nakayama before most of us were awake.
But 6.25 a.m. is late in Gary Moore’s morning. By then he has usually mucked out three or four horses himself and thundered ghostly through the dark on first lot at his every busy yard in 180 acres of parkland near Horsham. So the cheers greeting Sire De Grugy in the same winners’ circle he had graced in 2013 were more than for the return of what looked to have been a faded hero. They were for debts the fates needed to repay.
Two seasons ago Sire De Grugy ruled the two mile division but last term saw him lose his jumping confidence and he finished an apparently disinterested last when he resumed in early November. Winning the 2014 Champion Chase at Cheltenham had seemed to be the summit of both his and Gary Moore’s careers but the trainer put yesterday’s performance ahead of it. “Everyone thinks Cheltenham is the be all and end all,” he said, “but I don’t. Getting this horse back to his old self is just as good. There was nothing obviously wrong with him but Jamie has been sweetening him up and I thought he looked fantastic today.”
Looks became full fire action once the starter released the tape and the Irish front runner Special Tiara set off at the same ferocious gallop that had ripped the Celebration Chase field apart over this same 13 fence two mile Sandown test back in April. On that day yesterday’s favourite Vibrato Valtat could do no better than fourth and thoughts that his impressive return to action last month would change the picture began to falter as Special Tiara’s aggressive tactics took him out of the comfort zone once more.
But the gallop could not hurt Sire De Grugy. The horse that had looked laboured but a month ago was once again the mighty chestnut power house who has thrilled us down the years. Up on top Jamie Moore was getting the feel of his golden days. 15 times he had won on Sire De Grugy, four of them at the highest Grade I level. But this was to be the sweetest of them all. Down the back straight Special Tiara rocketed but Sire De Grugy had the legs of him. By the end of it he had made Noel Fehily take a breather on Special Tiara with a hope of a renewed challenge up the Sandown hill.
By the last fence of all he was right back in contention only for Sire De Grugy to jump across and collide in mid air. Fehily gathered Special Tiara again and although he got to within three quarters of a length at the post he no more looked like getting past than the necessary Stewards Enquiry looked likely to change the result.
The winning jockey was touchingly delighted. “They don’t often come back like that,” he said. “But Dad brings all sorts of horses back and if anyone could do it he could. He or I ride the horse every day and I have just tried to take him out to different places to sweeten his mind up. He is nine now, there might be another big race in him but whatever happens he there is a place for him with us for life.”
“The day has been tremendous for Dad” added Jamie, at 30 two years junior to 32 year old Ryan, “but it has also been brilliant for Josh to ride those first two winners after another one yesterday. He is a very good jockey and does not get the rides he deserves. I thought he was terrific today and that Ar Mad (who won the Henry VIII Chase) might be even better than Sire De Grugy. “
The clock suggests that Jamie might be on the money. For the blazing 3minutes 48 seconds it took Ar Mad to complete the Sandown circuit was a full 5 seconds less than that taken by his illustrious stable mate. What’s more it was done in quite breath-taking fashion. Whilst 24-year-old Jamie had been skilled and strategic in winning on the mare Flute Bowl early in the day, this time he was the very epitome of attacking verve.
There is no place like Sandown to watch a brilliant front-runner winging into and over fence after fence. “He was just amazing,” said his rider afterwards with a smile that lit the gloom, “ I am still buzzing.”
He was not the only one.