Moore still concerned at fitness of his star Sire

GARY Moore has conceded that Sire De Grugy is likely to be short of peak fitness when he makes his eagerly-awaited return in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on February 7.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase hero has not run since winning at Sandown in April last year, having his plans for this season disrupted by a setback.

Moore said: “He’s not as fit as I’d like at this stage.”

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Asked if he was confident the nine-year-old was as good as ever, Moore said: “I couldn’t answer that question truthfully now, but I’d be very disappointed if he wasn’t and very surprised if he wasn’t.”

Another two-mile star, Sprinter Sacre, made his return from a long absence at Ascot over the weekend, finishing second to Dodging Bullets.

Assessing the performance, Moore said: “He didn’t fill me with any dread, obviously there’s issues going on with the horse but he looked extremely fit the other day and I don’t think he blew up, he was probably race-rusty. You can’t leave Dodging Bullets out of it (Champion Chase equation).”