Altior toughs it out to land Champion Chase

1 year ago

The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior (recommended at 5/4 with got the better of a tremendous tussle with Ireland’s Min to win a memorable renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Mother Champion Chase, the feature race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.

A great result was made even better as God’s Own (advised each-way at 50/1 by earlier in the week) stayed on to take third place for trainer Tom George.

For most of the race the many supporters of Altior (Evens favourite) – whose participation had been in doubt just 48 hours earlier due to a posioned foot –  feared the worse as the star chaser wasn’t travelling well under Nico de Boinville, but he stuck to his guns and rallied to joining Min (5/2) at the final fence. Settling down to fight it out on the uphill run to the line, Altior really lengthened his stride and eventually went on to score by an impressive seven lengths.

“I was in serious trouble the whole way round,” admitted de Boinville in a post-race interview. “This ground would be the worst he’s ever had; so dead and tacky. It’s not his ground at all. He’s some horse. His jumping just kept him in the race. He’s exceptional – the best of the best.”

Altior is already available at 7/4 with Bet365 to retain his Champion Chase crown at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

An attritional renewal of the Grade 1 RSA Chase saw last year’s Pertemps Handicap Hurdle winner Presenting Percy (5/2f) confirm the tremendous promise he’s shown so far this term over fences. The Patrick Kelly-trained gelding travelled beautifully towards the rear of the field under Davy Russell before easing through the field to lead approaching the home turn as early pace-setter Black Corton faded. Showing a marked change of gear, the seven-year-old drew easily away to beat the classy Monalee (10/3) by seven lengths, with Elegant Escape (9/1) keeping on to take third.

“He’s a brilliant trainer,” said Russell, of County Galway-based Patrick Kelly. “Look at this horse. After three miles plus [he’s not even breathing heavily].”

Unibet immediately offered 10/1 about Presenting Percy winning the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Cheltenham Festival riding legend Ruby Walsh, who only returned to action after four months out with a broken leg, was taken to hospital for x-rays after possibly repeating the injury in a crashing fall from Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo in the RSA Chase.

Walsh, who landed a double on the opening day of the fixture courtesy of Footpad and Benie Des Deux, was later reported to have suffered a fracture in his right leg and will be out of action for around a month.

There was better luck though for the unbeaten Samcro (8/11f), trained by Gordon Elliott, who got odds-on punters off to a flying start in the opening Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle when staying on too strongly for Black Op (8/1) and the never-nearer Next Destination (4/1).

Given a fine ride from 18-year-old Jack Kennedy – who went on to complete a tremendous double on 33/1 shot on Elliott’s Veneer of Charm in the Fred Winter Novices Handicap Hurdle later in the day –  Samcro hit the bookies for six having been touted for months as a potential superstar. Possibly the main Irish banker of the week, he received a rapturous reception back in the winners’ enclosure.

Gordon Elliott made it a treble on the day when his Tiger Roll (7/1) came home in front in the marathon Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, ridden by Keith Donoghue, and Katie Walsh became the second winning lady rider of the week as she took the final race of the day on the Willie Mullins-trained Relegate 25/1, a second winner of the day for the champion Irish jumps trainer following the victory of 20/1 chance Blue Berry under Mark Walsh, in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle.



Paul Alster

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.