Horse Racing News – 25 February 2015

Sire De Grugy Wins at Chepstow, Big Cheltenham Withdrawals and Nicholls Cuts Cheltenham Entries

Sire De Grugy Wins

Sire De Grugy continued his preparation for the Cheltenham Festival, where he is currently the second favourite for the Queen Mother, with a decent win at Chepstow. There had been a lot of discussion about whether he would race at the Welsh course or not but in the end the 5/4 favourite won easily, by seven lengths. The win saw his odds cut and if he is fully fit he should give Sprinter Sacre a decent run for his money unless the legend is back to his very, very best.

Cheltenham Withdrawals

Whilst Gary Moore’s horse is all set for the big one, other horses and trainers have not been so lucky, with More Of That ruled out of the Festival and so unable to defend his crown in the World Hurdle. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill said he was “still not 100 per cent happy with him at home” and so after much speculation his withdrawal has been confirmed. He joins Al Ferof as a major withdrawal and no doubt there may be one or two more to come.

Nicholls Taking Only Elite

Paul Nicholls’ trainer of greats such as Kauto Star, Denman and Master Minded, has decided to reduce his Cheltenham Festival entries from 36 last year to “around 25” this year. He claims he is taking more of a “select team” this year and is keeping many horses back for the Grand National meeting at Aintree in April. Nicholls’ principle hope is Silviniaco Conti who heads the betting for the biggest race of the Festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, although he also has real chances in both the World Hurdle (Saphir du Rheu and Zarkandar) and the Queen Mother (Mr Mole and Dodging Bullets).