Altior bids to make it 18 in a row in Champion
The winning machine that is Altior has a record in his sights as he seeks to continue his ruthless domination of the two-mile chasing division by posting his fourth consecutive success at the Cheltenham Festival.
After victories in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Racing Post Arkle, Altior last year devoured the Cheltenham hill once more to defeat Min in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. If he can now retain that title his unbeaten run will be extended to 18 races, the jumping world record held by Big Buck’s.
Three runs this season have yielded three typically imperious triumphs, and although some eyebrows were raised by the manner in which Patricia Pugh’s superstar jumped markedly left in Ascot’s Clarence House Chase, neither jockey Nico de Boinville nor trainer Nicky Henderson expressed any anxiety.
“I’m not at all concerned,” said Henderson. “For a start he’s going left-handed this time, but on top of that he’s always been good in all his other races and jumps as straight as a gunbarrel at home.
“I’m relaxed in as far as everything has gone right. He’s had a good preparation, apart from interruptions from flu jabs and snow. He’s been in very good form and his work has been as good as always, which is different class.
“He has the best form but you always have to jump the fences and you don’t want anyone to get in your way.”
Asked whether making Altior a joint-world record holder was on his mind, Henderson said: “The Big Buck’s record did mean something to me until I suddenly realised Winx has won 31 consecutive races. Compared to what she’s done I fear 18 consecutive wins seems rather insignificant.
“I’ll be more interested about the record when Altior gets to 31 as well!”