Sire De Grugy: the 11-4 favourite returned six lengths clearPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Sire De Grugy the star with Champion romp
Report: Cheltenham Festival, Wednesday
BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase (Group 1) 2m, 5yo+ Old Course
SIRE DE GRUGY marked himself down as a true champion with an emphatic third Grade 1 victory this season, running away with the Champion Chase by six lengths from Somersby and Module, who were separated by a neck.
Having languished in the shadow of the absent Sprinter Sacre for most of the season despite a string of wins in top races, Sire De Grugy soared into the sunlight and his victory was greeted with an outpouring of joy from punters and racing folk.
The success seemed to unite one and all as it proved a win for one of the less heralded yards in Britain, one of the most popular jockeys in the weighing room and an enthusiastic owner and his family who are enjoying the thrill of their lives with their first and only horse.
All the concerns about Sire De Grugy's ability to handle the track or go on the ground were exploded as the flashy chestnut smoothly made ground down the hill before an electric burst took him clear.
He was not always the most fluent, he did always travel with supreme confidence but Sire De Grugy never let the leaders out of his sights and turning into the home straight it was a case of two good leaps and he would be a champion.
"It's unbelievable," said winning owner Steve Preston. "I don't know what to say. I'm made up. Everyone wanted this horse to be beaten for the last two weeks and he's proved them all wrong."
Held up out the back by a confident Jamie Moore, Sire De Grugy gradually crept closer and closer to be on the heels of the veteran pair Sizing Europe and Somersby as they made their way from the top of the hill to the home straight.
Jamie Moore: rode his first festival winner in the Champion ChasePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By this stage the main rivals to Sire De Grugy had packed their bags and gone home. Captain Conan jumped poorly from the off and was soon pulled up and Arvika Ligeonniere was left trailing like a bus trying to keep pace with a sports car.
Somersby wrestled the lead from the gallant Sizing Europe approaching the penultimate fence but Moore was ready to pounce and in between the last two fences he sensed his moment and went.
Jamie Moore plants a big kiss on Sire De Grugy after the Champion ChasePICTURE: Getty Images
Sire De Grugy soared over the final fence and the crowd erupted. A guard of honour was created by the jockeys to welcome Jamie Moore back into the winner's enclosure while trainer Gary Moore received backslaps and handshakes galore.
Gary Moore, saddling his second festival winner, said: "It was all about Sprinter Sacre not being here and someone wrote the other day that the race should be done under the Trade Descriptions' Act because that horse wasn't running. They were all decrying it but he can't do anything more than he's done.
"Jamie knows what he's doing. I'm so thrilled for everybody concerned, there's a lot of people involved, a lot of staff, and so many people wishing us luck. I was getting text mesages from six o'clock this morning.
"I saw him jump the last then I couldn't see anything else for so many people jumping up and down."
On the guard of honour for his son, Moore said: "It proves what a popular person he is. It's probably not been done for a long time."