Betfair Exchange Chase
(Registered as the Game Spirit Chase)
Grade 2 Handicap, Newbury 14:25
£50,000 added, 5yo plus,
2m 92yds, Class 1   
Saturday 8th February 2020

1 Altior 1/3F
2 Sceau Royal 9/1
3 Dynamite Dollars 12/1
6 ran Distances: 3¼l, nk, 5½l
Time: 4m 1.25s (slow by 2.25s)

Altior's 19-race winning run had come to an end last time out against Cyrname in November, when stepped up in trip at Ascot, and then Nicky Henderson’s superstar subsequently missed an outing at Christmas with an abscess.

The returning Dynamite Dollars set the pace after Bun Doran fell at the water jump, and plenty looked to have a chance at the third-last in the Grade Two feature.

Nico de Boinville had to get serious on the 1-3 favourite running to the final fence, but on landing his famed turbo kicked in and he sprinted clear to win by three and a quarter lengths, taking the race better known as the Game Spirit for a third time.

Henderson said: “We’ve had a few hiccups along the way, but we’re getting there.

“He was keen early and enjoying himself. He took a blow just before the second-last, but what he really liked was the way he put it to bed – the gears are still there.”

Bookmakers trimmed Altior a touch for the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Henderson added: “He’s only in one race (at Cheltenham), so we don’t have to question what we are doing.

“There is improvement to come and he (de Boinville) said he will come on a lot for it. As much as anything it will have done his confidence the world of good.

“It was not nice at Ascot and it took a lot of getting over to be honest with you, and Nico said today would have done him the world of good. His jumping and everything just gained in confidence all the way. It was just a matter of when he pressed the button and let him go and he was good.

“We know what we have got to do between now and then (Cheltenham) just keep the ball rolling. He takes plenty of work, he has had a nice race it has done him the world of good.

“He has been more flamboyant than that, but I’m just tinkering with minor details really.

“There is no doubt we were under pressure today. I’ve got to say I was fairly confident, but on the other hand you are ready to take what you have to take and that is what racing is all about and you have to face these things when they go wrong.

“It is nice it is done and he goes in there to try to retain his crown.”

He went on: “Ascot was a mistake all round and it wasn’t his scene. It was just bad luck. He was back on his ground today and has had a lovely time.

“He is a good horse and always has been a very good horse. I think it is lining up to be a very competitive Queen Mother, I really do.”

Alan King was pleased with the runner-up, Sceau Royal, and said: “He has run a marvellous race. Unfortunately Altior is just a better horse, but I’m thrilled with him.

“He jumped super and travelled round really well. As long as the ground is good then he will go to Cheltenham for the Queen Mother. I will have to speak to Anthony (Bromely, owners’ racing manager), but I’d love to step him up to two and a half miles at Aintree.

“I half-wish I had put him in the Ryanair now!”

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

POS DIST HORSE AGE WGT TRAINER JOCKEY SP
1      Altior 10 11-6 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 1/3F
2
Sceau Royal 8 11-6 Alan King Tom Bellamy 9/1
3
nk Dynamite Dollars 7 11-3 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 12/1
4
Simply Ned 13 11-6 Nicky Richards Brian Hughes 50/1
5
14 Kalashnikov 7 11-3 Amy Murphy Jack Quinlan 5/1
FELL Bun Doran 9 11-6 Tom George Jonathan Burke 20/1

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Betfair Exchange Chase – Roll of Honour

YEAR WINNER TRAINER JOCKEY AGE/WEIGHT SP RAN

2019 Abandoned - Equine Flu scare
2018 ALTIOR NJ Henderson Nico de Boinville 08-11-06 1/3F 3
2017 ALTIOR NJ Henderson Nico de Boinville 07-11-05 30/100F 4
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

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