ALTIOR MAKES US » » »
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