| Unbeaten in 17 over hurdles
can anybody stop Altior?
|Probably the undisputed
champion chaser over two miles, you surely cant look beyond Altior to
retain his Queen Mother Champion Chase title at this years Cheltenham
Festival. He is favourite with the bookies, with odds of 2/5 to make it
back-to-back wins on Ladies Day, while also extending his winning run over
hurdles to 18 races. But is there any horse out there that can stop him? Before
we study the competition, lets have a look back at how hes embarked
on this incredible unbeaten run.
17 consecutive wins since October
Altiors unbeaten run began back in October 2015, when
he first won at Chepstow in the Novices Hurdles and was largely
unchallenged, going on to win by 34 lengths. His next race was a lot closer,
but by asserting himself on the flat, Altior beat Ch'tibello by
one-and-a-quarter lengths at Ascot in another Novices Hurdles race.
However, the trials for the Cheltenham Novices Hurdles saw Altior under
some pressure, heavily challenged by Maputo but the Irish-bred held on
and won by just half a length, extending the run to three races without defeat.
The season finished with two more wins; first on Boxing Day at the
Novices Hurdles in Kempton, romping to victory over Open Eagle (rode by
Ruby Walsh) by 13 lengths; and ending the season with his first win at the
Cheltenham festival. Altior went into the Novices Hurdles as a keen
favourite and following a mistake from Min, went on to out-pace the French-bred
in the final stretch to win by seven lengths.
The following season,
Altior continued his winning run, beginning with another win at Kempton, this
time in the Novices Chase. In a two-horse race, Altior was on top and
totally out-paced Black Corton, who was approaching the final fence as Altior
crossed the finish line, which saw him win by an incredible 63 lengths. A
sprint finish at the Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown saw Altior come
from the back of the pack to eventually win by six-lengths and extend his
winning run to seven races.
Again, at the Novices Chase at
Kempton, Altior came from behind to record a further victory but he made
it look easy at Newbury in February 2017, looking consistently impressive to go
in to another Cheltenham race the favourite. And it was the Arkle Challenge
Trophy that Altior was to feature in this time. It was a tough-fought race,
which saw Charbel leading for a large proportion, before falling at the
penultimate fence. Altior capitalised and managed to draw clear within the
final 100 yards. He may not be racing this time around, but check out
Arkle Chase odds now. That season ended on a high, with another win at
Sandown to add to his collection; and Special Tiara proved no match for
Wind surgery saw Altior take a break for a large part of the
following season, but he was back again in February 2018 in fine form, managing
to extend his run to 14 races without defeat. The highlight of those three wins
was undoubtedly the Queen Mother Champion Chase victory over Min by seven
lengths at the Cheltenham Festival; a race that it took until the penultimate
fence for Altior to challenge, but he looked impressive in the final stretch.
The two will go head-to-head again this year, no doubt.
Going into this
years Queen Mother Champion Chase, Altior has continued his great form,
with three victories from three races and the most recent of those came in
Ascot at the end of January. In fact, Altior has beaten many of his rivals
with a win against fifth-favourite Un De Sceaux at Sandown at the
back-end of last year. Hes also previously beaten Diego Du Charmil and
In unbeatable form, itll take something very special
to knock Altior off the top-spot but who are the likely horses to pose a
Min @ 9/2 Of course Min is
the second-favourite, having been unsuccessful last year but familiar with the
course. The eight-year-old ridden by Ruby Walsh is unbeaten in two races and is
undoubtedly the strongest threat to Altior.
Footpad @ 6/1 Last
years Arkle winner, Footpad suffered a shock defeat over Christmas,
losing to Simply Ned by just half a length in the Sugar Paddy chase
at Leopardstown. Based on last seasons form, the first encounter between
Altior and Footpad was billed to be a thrilling one however, both horses
are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to form this time
Sceau Royal @ 14/1 Having previously lost out to Altior
in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, Sceau Royal poses a minimal threat,
having taken a break and only raced one this year.
Un De Sceaux @ 17/2
Un De Sceaux was most recently beaten by Altior at the Tingle Creek
Chase and at 11-years-old, it looks as though this could be the last time we
see the horse at Cheltenham. Making it a hat-trick of wins at the festival
would certainly make it a final farewell for one of the most likeable and
underrated charges to enter the circuit; however, it doesnt look