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Game Spirit Chase - 7th February, 2015

Sire De Grugy is set to make his hotly-anticipated return to the racecourse on Saturday afternoon as the Gary Moore-trained Champion Chase bids for glory in the Game Spirit Chase, which will provide some vital clues to the Cheltenham Festival event next month.

Having stormed to glory at Prestbury Park in March he was then seen ending his campaign in the Celebration Chase at Sandown Park, however, Moore has had to bid his time with his stable star and he will now look to bounce back with aplomb at the weekend in a fascinating renewal of the Grade 2.

Paul Nicholls's Mr Mole has blossomed over fences this season and was last seen bagging a handicap event at Sandown Park and the Ditcheat raider will now attempt to land a blow in the Graded sphere and with fitness on his side will be aiming to down the proven top class Moore runner.

Alan King's Uxizandre was second to Denman Chase candidate Taquin Du Seuil in the JLT Novices' Chase last season and showed his class when winning the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in the early part of the season, but he disappointed in Ireland and will be on a comeback mission here.

Vibrato Valtat is another interesting entry for the abovementioned Nicholls and he has sparkled over the larger obstacles all term, but he holds an entry in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase, so he may opt to stay in the novice division than take his chance here.

Upsilon Bleu was a fine winner of a competitive handicap chase at Wetherby last time out and will head to Newbury in form, but this is a lot tougher, whilst Karinga Dancer is another smart chaser and will be another that will face his stiffest test to date.

Latest Betting for 2015 Game Spirit Chase

4/6 Sire De Grugy

2/1 Mr Mole

4/1 Uxizandre

8/1 Vibrato Valtat

10/1 Upsilon Bleu

16/1 Karinga Dancer

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Game Spirit Chase History

The Game Spirit Chase is a Grade Two race run at Newbury over two miles, one furlong for horses aged five years or older and is widely regarded as a trial for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Named after Game Spirit, who was owned by the Queen Mother and finished placed in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Champion Chase, this race has always attracted fairly strong fields and throughout its early years had some classy winners during the late 1980's, early 1990's.

However, it was Viking Flagship who really put the race on the map in 1994 as David Nicholson's stable star not only managed to win this, but also the Victor Chandler Chase, Tingle Creek Chase and then rounded off the season with victory at the Cheltenham Festival in the Champion Chase.

It highlighted that this race is often used a warm-up for the Festival and since Viking Flaghip won this in the mid-90's the race has grown considerably and unearthed some terrific two-mile chasers.

Flagship Uberalles won the 2000 renewal of the Game Spirit Chase and eventually tasted Champion Chase glory in 2002, whilst Azertyuiop was a dual winner of this race in 2004 and 2005.

Paul Nicholls' speedster was an emphatic 12 length winner of the 2004 Game Spirit before heading to the Cheltenham Festival in March beating the classy duo of Moscow Flyer and Flagship Uberalles.

Nicholls has had a fine record in this contest winning the Game Spirit six times since the turn of the century and there were none more impressive than Master Minded, who stormed to dual success in this contest in 2008 and 2010 before bagging Champion Chase glory twice in a stellar career.

Recent Winners of Game Spirit Chase

  • 2000 - Flagship Uberalles
  • 2001 - Function Dream
  • 2002 - Lady Cricket
  • 2003 - Kadarann
  • 2004 - Azertyuiop
  • 2005 - Azertyuiop
  • 2006 - Don't Be Shy
  • 2007 - Well Chief
  • 2008 - Master Minded
  • 2009 - No Race
  • 2010 - Master Minded
  • 2011 - French Opera
  • 2012 - Sprinter Sacre
  • 2013 - Wishfull Thinking
  • 2014 - Module
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