Gary Moore has paid tribute to Sire De Grugy following the 2014 Champion Chase hero’s death at the age of 17.
He won 17 of his 42 starts, scoring at the highest level on five occasions in a career that spanned seven seasons and saw him become a popular figure on the National Hunt stage.
His finest hour came during 2013-14 where he took both Moore and his son Jamie to Group One stardom and the Cheltenham Festival winner’s enclosure, registering an emphatic six-length triumph over Somersby in that season’s Champion Chase.
Owned during his racing career by the Preston family, Sire De Grugy’s final victory would be an Ascot handicap in November 2016, with his farewell appearance coming at the scene of his greatest triumph, Cheltenham, just over a year later in December 2017.
He remained close to the Moores in retirement, spending his time in a stable especially made for his flagship horse by Jamie.
“He meant the world and he was a very good racehorse, but also a very good friend,” said Moore.
“In his later part of life he was fantastic with the grandchildren and Jamie’s wife in particular. He was an amazing horse.
“Jamie built a yard for him and some paddocks and he’s been well looked after since he retired. We did all we could to try to help him recover, but sadly it didn’t work.
“He did things that I haven’t been lucky enough to train another horse to do like him. Steve Preston was his owner and we had some great fun with him as there’s not many horses like him.”
At the peak of his powers during the 2013-14 campaign, Sire De Grugy won five-straight Graded chases in a row and as well as striking big-race glory at Prestbury Park, also scored in the Tingle Creek and Celebration Chase, both at Sandown, as well as registering an emphatic 11-length victory in Ascot’s Clarence House Chase.
Moore holds fond memories of those halcyon days and although Sire De Grugy’s Champion Chase success remains the biggest victory of the handler’s career, it is his Sandown demolition of Somersby in the first of two Tingle Creek triumphs which the Lower Beeding trainer picks out when asked for his favourite Sire De Grugy highlight.
He added: “Obviously Cheltenham was a very special day with everybody there and you have to savour them because there are not many days like it. But it would have to be the Tingle Creek for me and the way he did it.
“When he won the Celebration Chase after winning the Champion Chase that was some performance as well because he was well over the top but still managed to win.
“Every day was very special in that season. There’s not many horses that can do what he did.”