Racing: Chief out to rekindle flame in Game Spirit

Spot what the following horses have in common, and name the odd one out: Well Chief, Azertyuiop, Contraband, Seebald, Le Roi Miguel, Armaturk, Le Duc, Locksmith, Golden Alpha. Points for identifying them as the runners in the extraordinary Celebration Chase at Sandown two years ago, the title-deciding end-of-season contest that featured contestants from only the Martin Pipe and Paul Nicholls stables. And a bonus for knowing that Armaturk is the only one of the nonet - who had amassed 81 victories between them - to have subsequently won.

Well Chief, who clinched Pipe's 15th and final championship that day, was sidelined afterwards by leg trouble and missed all last season. But the tough, bouncy little chestnut is to make his comeback in the Game Spirit Chase on Saturday, for which he was confirmed as one of 10 entries yesterday.

"He is in very good form," said his now-trainer, David Pipe. "Timmy [Murphy] will come to school him later in the week and we'll see what his sessions are like."

Two years ago Well Chief beat all bar Moscow Flyer in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and has next month's crown as his target again. This time round, at the age of eight, he must face the new two-mile generation and the Cheltenham favourite, Voy Por Ustedes, will be one of Saturday's opponents.

"If we go, we are going for the experience," added Pipe. "We just want to keep him in one piece. Whether he wins or not he will improve for the run. And you are probably going to see a mini Queen Mother in itself."

Despite his 22-month absence Well Chief is vying for second favouritism for the Festival feature, five weeks tomorrow, with the Irish pair Newmill, the reigning champion, and Nickname.

Next in the lists are the French raider Foreman and Ashley Brook, both Game Spirit Chase entries. The score between Foreman and Voy Por Ustedes is 2-1 in the latter's favour - in the Arkle Trophy last March and Desert Orchid Chase in December, with a reverse in the Maghull Chase at Aintree - but the former's trainer, Thierry Doumen, is undaunted. "There's only 1lb between them on official ratings and Foreman is getting tougher," he said.

Armaturk and his Paul Nicholls stablemate Sporazene, unbeaten in two chases this term, are also set to run on Saturday en route to Cheltenham, and will be accompanied to the Berkshire track by the Royal & SunAlliance Chase favourite Denman, due to line up in the novices' chase.

But the Ditcheat yard's biggest gun is the Gold Cup favourite Kauto Star, scheduled to complete his final Festival prep in the Aon Chase. The seven-year-old had been under consideration for the Game Spirit if testing ground were forecast, but with the ground likely to remain good to soft the longer race was chosen. "The forecast looks OK," said Nicholls. "If it changes we have the option of going to Ascot a week later. There have been no problems with him; he's ready to go."

An hour and ten minutes after Kauto Star struts his stuff at Newbury, some of his chief Gold Cup rivals, including In Compliance and The Listener, turn out at Leopardstown in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, moved from its Sunday slot to avoid a clash with Ireland's home six nations rugby match against France.

In Compliance, trained by Michael O'Brien, beat last year's Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition at Punchestown in December and The Listener, from the Robert Alner yard, lowered the colours of Beef Or Salmon at Leopardstown later that month. The grey will leave for Ireland today. "We went early last time because of the Christmas ferry schedule," said Alner. "It worked, so we'll do the same again."

Beef Or Salmon, the winner last year, will take his chance again, but a notable absentee is his runner-up Hedgehunter. The Grand National winner is not yet in top form, according to his trainer, Willie Mullins.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Cosmologist

(Market Rasen 1.50)

NB: Cloudless Dawn

(Market Rasen 3.20)

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...

Foundation Phase teacher vacancy - Roath, Cardiff

£100 - £105 per day + Travel Scheme plus free professional training: Randstad ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...

Science Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Science Teacher - NewportKey ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week