Familiar hunting ground for four Moore hopes

Orzare wins at Fontwell earlier in his career. Picture: Allan Hutchings (100411-273)
Orzare wins at Fontwell earlier in his career. Picture: Allan Hutchings (100411-273)
The start of racing on Washout Wednesday / Picture by Malcolm Wells

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Gary Moore is keeping his options open ahead of the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury next month.

Four of the West Sussex trainer’s stable stars are among the 50-strong entry for the prestigious handicap contest on February 11.

Via Galilei, Sire De Grugy, Megastar and Orzare were all pencilled in for the extended two-mile race by their Lower Beeding handler.

Meanwhile, stable-mate Fruity O’Rooney featured among the 23 acceptors for the Listed Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday. Final declarations will be made at the end of the week.

The Betfair Hurdle – more commonly known as the Totesport Trophy – has been kind to Moore in the past.

He celebrated success in 2007 when Heathcote delivered a huge shock off a mark of 126.

The son of Unfuwain went to post at 50/1 before holding off Overstrand by a neck to take the title.

Moore then returned 12 months later to prove his success was no fluke.

This time around it was the 14/1-shot Wingman who delivered the crown.

Despite jockey Jamie Moore tipping the scales at 1lb overweight, the 124-rated gelding beat Punjabi – who little more than a year later won the Champion Hurdle – by two lengths.

So it’s no surprise to see the dual-purpose trainer going all out for victory again.

However, his bid could be hampered by the presence of four Paul Nicholls challengers at the top of the weights.

While Celestial Halo is expected to head straight to Fontwell, the presence of Rock On Ruby – rated 165 – would see both Megastar (137) and Orzare (130) eliminated from the handicap.

It would certainly be a pity for the latter, who finished a superb third to Smad Place at Ascot on Saturday.

But Via Galilei (144) and Sire De Grugy (143) look safe, with the latter – a 14/1-shot in the ante post market – looking to bounce back from a disappointing sixth on his seasonal bow at Chepstow last week.