Saturday 16 February 2019

Altior a step closer to record

Altior ridden by Nico de Boinville clear a fence before winning The Matchbook Clarence House Steeple Chase Race at Ascot. Photo: Julian Herbert/PA
Altior ridden by Nico de Boinville clear a fence before winning The Matchbook Clarence House Steeple Chase Race at Ascot. Photo: Julian Herbert/PA

Graham Clark

Altior stretched his unbeaten sequence to 17 with a smooth victory in the Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot.Nicky Henderson's superstar did jump out to his left, markedly on occasions, but he had so much in hand over just two rivals it did not make any difference.

Having to make his own running was not ideal - and while Nico de Boinville was keen to keep hold of him in the first half of his race, once he gave him his head down the back straight the race was almost over. Altior quickly put lengths between himself and Fox Norton, who himself is a Grade One winner but was returning from more than a year off.

Sent off at the prohibitive price of 1-10, Altior's tendency to jump left will have given those who took the short odds a few anxious moments - but he was never in any danger, cruising home to win by seven lengths.

"It's the sort of thing you see horses do around here," said Henderson. "He doesn't need to go left, but we know he's so much better at Cheltenham. He had to go and do his own thing, and we knew he'd have to make the running. If something came to him I think he'd have gone again - he was idling a bit."

Altior has put himself on course to equal Big Buck's all-time record of 18 successive victories over jumps, in defence of his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

"You are getting to an extraordinary sequence if you like, that he is building up," added Henderson. "We know where we are going next, and he won't run again before Cheltenham - that's why I rather wanted to do it this way.

"There are two Grade Ones and a Grade Two along the way - take that, then freshen up for Cheltenham - because that is the main objective, and we can decide what we do after that."

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