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Sire De Grugy takes centre stage in Celebration Chase at Sandown

Sire De Grugy followed the script and brought the house down as he notched his fourth Grade One success of the season with an easy victory in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown.

Hadrian's Approach powers to victory in the bet365 Gold Cup under Barry Geraghty    Photograph:PA
Hadrian's Approach powers to victory in the bet365 Gold Cup under Barry Geraghty Photograph:PA

As the curtain came down on the jumps season, the biggest cheers were reserved for the pop-ular Champion Chaser who blitzed his five opponents in the two-mile event under Jamie Moore.

After justifying 2-7 favouritism and running out an eased-down three-and-a-quarter-length winner from Pepite Rose, trainer Gary Moore admitted he felt the glare of the spotlight.

He said: "I was slightly nervous because a lot of people, some good judges among them, told me I shouldn't come here and told me to put him away because horses don't always come back in the same form after Cheltenham.

"I was confident that he was very well with all the help from the staff and Jamie, I was confident he was in good order. It shows what a great horse he is to win four Grade One chases in a season."

Sire De Grugy will now have a summer break and is expected to make his seasonal return at Chepstow in October.

On the day that Nicky Henderson surrendered the trainers' championship to Paul Nicholls, the master of Seven Barrows took great consolation in landing the feature bet365 Gold Cup with Hadrian's Approach.

The seven-year-old had been beaten 30 lengths by Holywell at Cheltenham last month and the decision to bypass the Scottish National was vindicated as he powered home under Barry Geraghty to land the three-mile-five-and-a-half-furlong event at odds of 10-1.

Burton Port and Tony McCoy finished three-quarters of a length adrift, with Godsmejudge a further two-and-a-half lengths back in third.

Henderson said: "His jumping has got much more professional. He is schooled about three times a week and his jumping has got proficient without being brilliantly spectacular. I don't think Aintree [the Grand National] beckons for him next year."

The stewards took a dim view of Geraghty's ride, though, banning him for nine days (May 10-18 inclusive) and fining him £3150 for excess use of his whip.

McCoy was crowned champion jockey for a remarkable 19th consecutive season and marked the occasion with victory aboard Dispour (14-1) in the opening bet365 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Nicholls is already looking to next season with Southfield Theatre (15-8 favourite), who landed the bet365 Select Hurdle in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies.

He said: "He looks like evolving into an exciting chaser, he jumps a fence already and he's an improving horse. Three miles really would be his ideal trip."

Meanwhile, popular veteran Tidal Bay has been retired. The 13-year-old won 15 races and amassed more than £800,000 during his career, winning three Grade One events and other big-race victories over both hurdles and fences.

Robert Thornton is set for a spell on the sidelines after chipping a bone in his back and breaking a rib in a fall at Chepstow on Friday. The rider parted company with the Alan King-trained Say When at the fourth fence in the extended two-mile novices' hurdle.

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