SIRE DE GRUGY is the current second-favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase having followed up his victory over Somersby in the Tingle Creek at Sandown by beating Oiseau De Nuit by four lengths in the Desert Orchid at Kempton. Whether he'll be good enough at Cheltenham in March is still open to debate but he should land a second Grade 1 chase here and beat some old rivals if his sometimes suspect jumping holds up. Hidden Cyclone was third in the Paddy Power and beaten less than a length by Benefficient in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown last month. He's a reliable sort who shouldn't be far away again while Days Hotel won three Grade 2 events as a novice. Kauto Stone struggles in this grade, however, and Lancetto is only a handicapper.
Days Hotel (IRE) 11-4 (11-10) Chased leaders, bad mistake 5 out, moderate 5th approaching straight, left moderate 3rd and kept on same pace from after 3 out, 3rd of 7, 15l behind Twinlight (11-10) at Cork 2m chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Dec.
Hidden Cyclone (IRE) 8-1 (11-12) Chased leader, closer order 6 out, prominent when pecked 2 out, led before straight, narrowly headed last, impeded and switched right run-in, rallied well, not get to winner, 2nd of 7, 3/4l behind Benefficient (11-12) at Leopardstown 2m 1f chs G1 (1) sft in Dec.
Kauto Stone (FR) 11-1 (11-7) Led at strong pace and clear before 3rd, hit 7th (water), reduced lead 4 out, ridden and joined next, soon headed, dropped to 3rd and blundered 2 out, soon weakened, 5th of 9, 18l behind Sire De Grugy (11-7) at Sandown 2m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.
Lancetto (FR) 14-1 (11-7) Chased leaders, went 2nd before last, led last, soon quickened away, driven and stayed on flat, pressed in closing stages but always holding on, won at Ascot 2m 1f hcp chs 0-140 (3) sft in Dec beating Gus Macrae (9-12) by 1/2l, 10 ran.
Oiseau de Nuit (FR) 33-1 (11-6) Tracked leading pair until 5th, left in modest 3rd after 7th, pushed along and stayed on to 2nd before 3 out, plugged on but no chance with winner, 2nd of 6, 4l behind Sire De Grugy (11-10) at Kempton 2m Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) sft in Dec.
Sire De Grugy (FR) 4-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders in 4th, went 2nd after 5th, led 4 out, clear when went left 3 out, went left last, stayed on well, ridden out, won at Kempton 2m Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) sft in Dec beating Oiseau de Nuit (11-6) by 4l, 6 ran.
Somersby (IRE) 4-1 (11-7) Held up in 6th, went right and bumped 8th, blundered next, travelling well in 5th after 4 out, went 3rd soon after 2 out, driven and stayed on flat, took 2nd final 100 yards, no chance with winner, 2nd of 9, 4l behind Sire De Grugy (11-7) at Sandown 2m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.