Sire De Grugy raised the decibel level at Cheltenham to a height which will be hard to top for the rest of Festival week with a conclusive and joyously-celebrated victory in the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The groundswell of public affection towards the Moore family caused an eruption in the stands as loud as any Irish banker, and their standing in the British racing community could be measured by seeing nearly every one of the jockeys not involved in the race lining up next to the winner’s enclosure to welcome them back.
Sire De Grugy will always be dogged by the fact last season’s champion Sprinter Sacre has been sidelined, but he could have done no more during the campaign but roll off Grade One victories at Sandown and Ascot, as well as win the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in which Sprinter Sacre capitulated.
“It annoys me that people don’t give him the credit he deserves. It was all about Sprinter Sacre and someone wrote the other day that this race should be done under the trade descriptions act because the Queen Mother Chase isn’t right,” said trainer Gary Moore.
“There’s a lot of people who deserve thanks for this. I have never had so many text messages - it started at six o’clock this morning - and at half six I got a call from the champion Flat trainer-elect (Richard Hannon jnr) wishing me good luck. I am just glad he has won for them as much as anyone else.
“It’s Jamie’s first Festival winner and the guard of honour the lads gave to Jamie meant a lot.”
Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins took the opening race at Cheltenham for the second successive day as Faugheen made mincemeat of his rivals in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
Also on Wednesday O’Faolains Boy rescued a quiet season for Rebecca Curtis with a nail-biting victory over Smad Place in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.