Sire De Grugy will be sporting some eyecatching footwear as he defends his Queen Mother Champion Chase title at the Cheltenham Festival next week.
The nine-year-old has had his problems this term after what was an all-conquering 2013/14 campaign, which included his Cheltenham success among four Grade One wins.
However, this season has not gone to plan with the Gary Moore-trained runner suffering a setback in the first half of the year before his belated return at Newbury last month saw him unseat jockey Jamie Moore at the third-last obstacle.
Sire De Grugy has since landed a confidence-boosting success under a big weight in a Chepstow handicap and Moore senior revealed that foot problems had necessitated a change to white plastic shoes rather than the usual metal racing plates.
He explained: “If you look at Sire De Grugy, he has plastic shoes on – we had them changed yesterday. He had a corn before he went to Newbury and it was touch and go whether I could run him or not. He was sound two days before the race. When he came back, we had to cut the corn out and because we had to cut so much out of the foot, he has to run in special shoes.
“It is quite unusual to see a racehorse with white shoes.
“The blacksmith is going to travel to Cheltenham with Sire De Grugy just in case. They are a bit more pronounced than a normal shoe. They must be Gucci’s as they are quite expensive!”
Sire De Grugy was wearing his new shoes when winning at Chepstow and Moore admitted the change had been a worry in the build-up to the race. Speaking at a media day, he said: “He then ran in the plastic shoes at Chepstow – it was a different footing for him and a big worry as he only had them on the day before – but they did the job.”
Moore says his stable star is firing on all cylinders again and expects him to mount a bold defence of his crown. He said: “I am now confident about next week – they have got him to beat.”
Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson’s Sign Of A Victory will skip the Cheltenham Festival and will instead run in the QTS Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on 18 April.
Having won a handicap with ease on his return at Ascot this season, he subsequently disappointed at Kempton and Wincanton, when soft ground was blamed for his performances.
He was, however, found to have been suffering from ulcers and has been given a couple of weeks on the easy list.
“He’s going to run in the Scottish Champion Hurdle next and misses Cheltenham,” said owner Matt Morgan.
“He’ll be freshened up and we’ll head up to Ayr with him.”