Sire De Grugy in top form
Gary Moore felt Sire De Grugy jumped better than he ever has at Ascot on Saturday ahead of the popular chaser's bid to win the Tingle Creek at Sandown for a third time.
Sire De Grugy jumped better than ever at Ascot
The 10-year-old defied a mark of 160 in a competitive handicap, showing he retains most, if not all, of his old ability which has seen him win five Grade Ones, including the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
After finishing last of seven on his return over two and a half miles at Aintree in October, he bounced back to his best under regular rider Jamie Moore.
"It was very pleasing for everyone, especially for the horse and for Jamie," said Moore.
"It was a great performance giving weight away, especially taking it (the running) up as early as he did and maintaining it all the way to the line.
"We've been pleased with him since, he ate up (on Sunday night) and the night before.
"He jumped impeccably on Saturday and I don't think I've seen him jump as well as that.
"If he jumps like that at Sandown, that would be a massive bonus over all those Railway Fences down the back."
Sire De Grugy won the Tingle Creek in both 2013 and last season, when he pulled three-quarters of a length clear of Special Tiara.
Moore intends on go all out to win the Tingle Creek as Ar Mad is also due to return in the Grade One on December 3.
No better than an average hurdler, fences absolutely transformed the six-year-old, and he won the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown by 10 lengths from Bristol De Mai.
He followed that up with success in the Wayward Lad at Kempton but then suffered a season-ending injury at Plumpton in February.
Ar Mad needed a screw inserting into a fracture and is a solid second-string, though Moore is wary about the possibility of Un De Sceaux, or even Douvan, making the journey from Ireland.
"Anything that Willie Mullins sends over I've big respect for, but as long as I get them there fit and well, that is all that matters," said Moore.
"Ar Mad's road to recovery has been quite smooth. We've been very careful and steady away with him.
"I schooled him the other morning and it went well. He didn't go left or right, he went straight as an arrow and he's well on target for the Tingle Creek.
"We would have liked to have given him a prep run, but where he is rated there is not much about and he was not going to be ready before December."
On his two-pronged Sandown charge, Moore added: "I'd quite like to see a dead-heat in the Tingle Creek, but as long as they both come back safe and sound and live to fight another day I'll be happy."
Another top-class two-miler in the West Sussex yard is Traffic Fluide but he only made it to the track once last season and his return this year has also been delayed.
Moore said: "Traffic Fluide is less complicated than Ar Mad as he has no problem going left- or right-handed.
"Ar Mad could step up in trip and go further. The Ryanair (Chase at the Cheltenham Festival) could be a possibility for him to avoid the other two (Sire De Grugy and Ar Mad) in the Queen Mother.
"Traffic Fluide is back in light exercise and has been on the walker for the last six weeks.
"We are playing it by ear when to start with him but he looks fantastic and is a very happy horse in himself.
"I'd like to get a run into him in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury before we go to Cheltenham.
"He's definitely a decent horse. He was not far behind Sire De Grugy and Un De Sceaux last year when he was not as fit as we could get him."
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