Sunday Mirror - - TRAVEL - BY DAVID YATES

ON a day more suited to the Chelsea trac­tor than the pranc­ing horse, Altior hit top gear to take the Bet­fair Tin­gle Creek Chase che­quered flag and rack up a per­fect 10 over fences.

Nicky Hen­der­son feared the eight- year- old’s wheels would spin on Sandown Park’s rain­soft­ened ter­rain, as a se­lect field of four as­sem­bled for the Grade 1 two-miler.

But his con­cerns were ground­less, as Altior – also un­beaten in five out­ings over hur­dles – un­der Nico de Boinville, pow­ered past 2016 vic­tor Un De Sceaux and Ruby Walsh for a fourlength supremacy. It also saw the win­ner cut to 4-6 for his Queen Mother Chase ti­tle de­fence at Chel­tenham in March.

“It was a day for Land Rovers, not Fer­raris,” said Hen­der­son. “The good think about

Altior is he’s got a bit of both.

“He’s got amaz­ing gears. You can’t change gear in that ground – but he did!

“We’ve al­ways ‘ummed’ and ‘aah­hed’ about soft ground – to­day was proper, proper hard work. Ruby set a gal­lop – we knew he was go­ing to – and he made it as tough as he could.

“But this is an amaz­ing horse – you couldn’t make it too tough for him.

“That’s as good a per­for­mance as he’s ever done, be­cause it’s first time out, a proper gal­lop - a proper race.”

The sole blem­ish on an oth­er­wise flaw­less dis­play was a mis­take at the sec­ond fence, and De Boinville added: “He has prob­a­bly only jumped 10 fences be­fore com­ing here, so it maybe just woke him up a bit.

“What I liked was when we went to the down­hill fence, he danced over it. He felt ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. Once he gets to some­thing’s girths, away he goes – like great cham­pi­ons do.”

Altior still holds an en­try in the King Ge­orge VI Chase at Kemp­ton Park on Box­ing Day, but his trainer smiled: “We left him in it - good­ness only knows why! I can’t see him stay­ing three miles. There’s only one race we want, and that’s the Queen Mother.”

Lalor was pushed out to 8-1 ( from 4-1) for Chel­tenham’s Arkle Tro­phy af­ter his third at 8-11 for the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, won by Dy­na­mite Dol­lars.

IN GREAT NICO Nico de Boinville and Altior storm home yes­ter­day

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