Altior daz­zles through driz­zles

Sunday Sun - - Racing -

Altior rid­den by Nico De Boinvile on the run up to the fin­ish to win The Bet­fair Tin­gle Creek Chase dur­ing day two of the Bet­fair Tin­gle Creek Christ­mas Fes­ti­val at Sun­down Park Race­course ALTIOR sur­vived a heavy down­pour and a de­ter­mined Un De Sceaux to ex­tended his win­ning streak to 15 in the Bet­fair Tin­gle Creek Chase at Sandown.

Nicky Hen­der­son’s star was un­proven on such test­ing ground and faced ar­guably his tough­est test to date up against Un De Sceaux, Sceau Royal and Saint Cal­va­dos.

As ex­pected Saint Cal­va­dos and Un De Sceuax made sure there was no hang­ing about – but Nico de Boinville was in­tent to not let them get too far ahead.

With the ex­cep­tion of jump­ing too big at the open ditch early on, Altior’s fenc­ing was at its slick­est, al­though Un De Sceaux made him pull out all the stops.

Turn­ing in it seemed a mat­ter of ‘how far’ for Altior as he loomed along­side the diminu­tive Un De Sceaux, but Wil­lie Mullins’ mul­ti­ple Grade One win­ner did not go down with­out a fight.

When Altior got in slightly tight to the last it gave Ruby Walsh chance to steal a length, but as he has done in the past, the 8-13 favourite pow­ered up the hill to win go­ing away.

Hen­der­son said: “That was spe­cial, I think that was re­ally test­ing him to­day and, like Bu­veur D’Air last week, if he was go­ing to get beat it would have been to­day.

“When you have gen­uine cham­pi­onship horses it is great peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate them, but it does make you feel the pres­sure.

“They were four very good horses in hor­ri­ble ground to­day and they’ve all run their best.”

He went on: “It’s a sense of re­lief. Very much so. We have al­ways Ummed and ah­hed about soft ground. I re­mem­ber the last two years in the Game Spirit at New­bury, we were um­ming and ah­hing until the tee-off time, be­cause it was soft ground. But to­day it was proper hard work go­ing round.

“We knew Ruby Walsh would set a gal­lop and he made it as tough as he could. But this is an amaz­ing horse and you couldn’t make it too tough for him.

“That is not his ground, but he is that good. He was fit, and he had to be, be­cause they were go­ing to test us, weren’t they?

“I think that’s as good a per­for­mance as he has ever pro­duced, be­cause it is first time out, a proper gal­lop and a proper race. There was a proper gal­lop in that ground.

“Nico said it was just heavy ground. He has never been in that be­fore and I don’t think he likes it, as I said be­fore.

“He does stay, be­cause he does keep gal­lop­ing and he has won nicely in the end. He gal­loped away, didn’t he? “He said he didn’t have to work for it.” De Boinville said: “That rain just be­fore­hand re­ally did open that ground up. We were get­ting drenched down at the start, but Ruby has gone out and made it a true cham­pi­onship pace. “All credit to Un De Sceaux for keep­ing go­ing. That was some per­for­mance from him. That was a great per­for­mance, the gal­lop he went. He has been around a long time. It just seemed to set up the race nicely for us and we al­ways had that kick at the end. “And when you reach a hill in that ground as well, he just seemed to go into over­drive there. “The first ditch mis­take made him wake up a bit. He was fresh and well go­ing into this, and we haven’t done that much school­ing, as we haven’t been able to get on the grass. We got on the grass last week and he prob­a­bly only jumped about 10 fences com­ing into this. “Maybe it woke him up, and when we went down to the down­hill fence, he danced over it, so that was good. “He felt ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic to­day. It was a stronger gal­lop than I an­tic­i­pated and on good ground that would have been a good gal­lop. It was end-to-end. “I was very happy where I was, track­ing in be­hind Un De Sceaux. “I did think he was the one to track and I had it in my mind that would be how it would pan out, and I was proved right.”

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