Betfair Exchange Chase
(Registered as the Game Spirit Chase)
Grade 2 Handicap, Newbury 15:00
£50,000 added, 5yo plus,
2m 92yds, Class 1   
Saturday 11th February 2017

1 Altior 30/100F
2 Fox Norton 5/1
3 Dodging Bullets 20/1
NR: Gino Trail (IRE)
4 ran Distances: 13l, 5l, 14l
TIME 4m 5.80s (slow by 6.80s)

Altior has the Spirit at Newbury

Altior
© Racehorse Photos
Altior

Last year's brilliant winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle looks set for another Cheltenham Festival success after routing his rivals in the Grade Two chase registered as the Game Spirit.

Always prominent under Nico de Boinville, the heavily backed 30/100 favourite went clear of the field with four to jump and never saw another rival as he sauntered clear of the opposition to record a wide margin success.

Fox Norton, who was conceding 5lbs to the winner, was best of the rest on his first start since suffering a setback.

Altior is now the 1/3 favourite (NRNB) for the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy with Sky Bet whose spokesman Michael Shinners said: "Plenty of people thought this would provide Altior with a real test but he's brushed some seasoned campaigners aside and looks an absolute superstar.

"The dream goes on for his connections and he's now just 1/3 with ourselves for the Arkle and it's hard to see where the dangers lie."

Henderson told ITV Racing: "That was great. I was very nervous about the ground. We tried to keep him out of it like we tried to protect Sprinter Sacre in those days.

"We'll try to win the Arkle first. He's been on exactly the same route. It's the way we came in with Sprinter as a novice. OK, we've got this far now.

"The thing we all miss this year is Sprinter not being able to have a game with Douvan. If everything goes right and we're all here in a year's time, maybe Altior and Douvan can meet then. It would be great."

De Boinville said: "I've just got to say a big thank you to the Pughs (owners) and the guv'nor (Henderson). He's stuck by me.

"Altior is quite a star. Just to ride a smashing horse like this is quite something

"Everybody is going to ask me to compare him with Sprinter Sacre, but I'm just going to enjoy them in their own right.

"He's pretty electric."

Henderson went on: "He is good isn't he. He is getting there. It's a pity he has had to go round again on his own. He is starting to show off a bit too now.

"The nice thing is he found that easy and handled the ground. I remember him getting beaten in a bumper one day behind Barters Hill and Buveur D'Air.

"He was third and I was disappointed. I thought he was very special then. Now he looks what I thought he was. This year he has not put a foot wrong.

"He is a genuine two-miler and he doesn't need to go any further. If it comes up soft now we don't have to panic. We are going to stay in the Arkle for sure.

"Buveur D'Air is going to win the Champion Hurdle and I will get in a muddle if I change them all around.

"I had moments last night where he was not going to run.

"He has always looked very special and everything has gone right now.

"We left him bumpering for another year longer as he had niggling things, but since then he has had a straightforward run. He is a very professional horse."

Colin Tizzard said of runner-up Fox Norton: "I would not want to take Altior on again.

"He sat in his box for a month and he looked a bit ring rusty today. I think he is more of a stayer.

"I watched last year's Arkle with Joe (Tizzard) on Christmas Day and he only just got into third. He will come out of this race and hopefully be fine. He is both races (Champion Chase and Ryanair) and we will decide which he goes for nearer the time."

Betfair Exchange Chase
(Registered As The Game Spirit Chase) (Grade 2)
£50,000 added, 5yo plus, 2m 92y, Class 1
4 ran
Going: Soft

Pos D Horse SP Jockey Weight Trainer Age
1st Altior (IRE) 30/100f Nico de Boinville
11-5
N J Henderson 7
2nd 13 Fox Norton (FR) 5/1 Aidan Coleman
11-10
C L Tizzard 7
3rd 5 Dodging Bullets 20/1 Sam Twiston-Davies
11-0
P F Nicholls 9
4th 14 Traffic Fluide (FR) 8/1 J E Moore
11-0
G L Moore 7
NR Gino Trail (IRE) 33/1 2nd Preference
11-0
Kerry Lee 10

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Betfair Exchange Chase – Roll of Honour

YEAR WINNER TRAINER JOCKEY AGE/WEIGHT SP RAN

2016 TOP GAMBLE Kerry Lee Richard Johnson 08-11-05 10/11F 4
2015 MR MOLE Paul Nicholls A P McCoy 07-11-06 7/2 5
2014 MODULE Tom George Paddy Brennan 07-11-02 11/8F 4
2013 WISHFULL THINKING Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson 10-11-06 4/1 6
2012 SPRINTER SACRE Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty 06-11-05 2/5F 6
2011 FRENCH OPERA Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty 08-11-05 7/2 7
2010 MASTER MINDED Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 07-11-10 8/13F 5
2009 Abandoned - Snow
2008 MASTER MINDED Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 05-11-04 7/4 6
2007 WELL CHIEF David Pipe Timmy Murphy 08-11-00 5/2 8
*2006 DON’T BE SHY Martin Pipe Timmy Murphy 05-10-11 5/4F 4
2005 AZERTYUIOP Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 08-11-10 11/10F 6
2004 AZERTYUIOP Paul Nicholls Ruby Walsh 07-11-05 4/11F 6
2003 KADARANN Paul Nicholls Joe Tizzard 06-11-04 5/1 5
2002 LADY CRICKET Martin Pipe A P McCoy 08-11-01 15/8 7
2001 FUNCTION DREAM Mary Reveley Anthony Ross 09-11-03 7/4 6
2000 FLAGSHIP UBERALLES Paul Nicholls Joe Tizzard 06-11-13 1/4F 3
1999 CELIBATE Charlie Mann Mick Fitzgerald 08-11-03 7/2 6
1998 ASK TOM Tom Tate Russ Garritty 09-11-10 13/8F 4
1997 DOUBLE SYMPHONY Charlie Brooks Jamie Osborne 09-10-12 4/5F 3
1996 VIKING FLAGSHIP David Nicholson Adrian Maguire 09-11-10 5/2 6
1995 NAKIR Simon Christian Jamie Osborne 07-11-10 5/2 3
1994 VIKING FLAGSHIP David Nicholson Adrian Maguire 07-11-10 3/1 5
1993 WATERLOO BOY David Nicholson Richard Dunwoody 10-11-07 9/4 5
1992 WATERLOO BOY David Nicholson Richard Dunwoody 09-11-10 10/11F 6

*Run at Lingfield Park after Newbury was abandoned because of frost