The Game Spirit Chase (Saturday 3.00 @ Newbury) was first run in 1953, and was granted its current grade-2 status in 1992. It is run over 2-miles and 13-fences, and is a recognised trial for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, though only Azertyioup (2004) and Master Minded (2008) have done the double this century.
Winners in the last decade have been aged between 5 and 10, with 7-year-olds accounting for 3 of those victories. Meanwhile, weights carried to victory have varied from 10-11 up to 11-10, though only 1 horse has carried the maximum penalty during the last 10-years.
Finished third behind Douvan and Sizing John in last season’s Arkle, and was backed as though defeat was out of the question when sluicing-up in a handicap back at Cheltenham in October, before also annihilating decent yardsticks in the Schloer Chase at Cheltenham in November. Sadly injured after that and, whether he needs this run or not, he has a difficult looking task carrying 11-10 and conceding the potentially top-class Altior 5lb.
Yet to race outside of novice company be it over hurdles or fences, but his 7-length win in last season’s Supreme Hurdle looks scintillating now with Min, Buveur D’air and Petit Mouchoir all behind that day. Yet to be tested over fences, but even his 6-length defeat of Charbel was fair form considering that one had previously beaten Top Notch and La Prezien.
The 2015 Chaser looks a shadow of his former self, and he’s also been beaten twice in this race before by inferior horses Module and Top Gamble. Does only have to carry 11-0 this year, but had similar chances already this season without taking them, and up against a couple of potential superstars in Altior and Fox Norton.
Won a novice chase and a handicap chase this season before decent seconds to Buveur D’air and Zamdy Man. Probably flattered to get as close to Beveur D’air as he did, and looks well-held by Altior on a line through that horse anyway.
Officially comes out best at the weights as he only has to carry 11-0, and has every chance on his third behind Un Des Sceaux at Ascot last year, when just behind stablemate Sire De Grugy. Not been seen since that race though, and would probably need to be at his best to win this if Altior is at the top of his game.
2017 Game Spirit Chase Summary
This will be Altior’s first real test over fences, but he’s expected to pass it in style, especially as his two main rivals are coming back after injury. You may also get a bigger price about him here than for the Arkle – and the big-hitters look sure to be emptying the wheelbarrows onto a horse that Nicky Henderson holds in the very highest regard.
2017 Game Spirit Chase Tip
Altior – free money at 4/7 with Black Type