One of Britain’s favourite chasers makes his seasonal reappearance this Saturday in Sandown’s Betfair Tingle Creek and judging by his latest schooling at Seven Barrows, Altior looks back to his imperious best! Check out how well he looked on our Twitter feed here.
We’ll look back at Altior’s brief season last year and assess Altior’s chances of winning a third Tingle Creek for trainer Nicky Henderson and check out the other hopes which includes a strong Paul Nicholls team, who has an excellent record in this race.
We’ll also look out for the ante post best bets at this stage and point in you in the right direction for the best odds from out partner firms.
So over to our dual Champion Chaser and winner of 11 Grade One chases, Altior. Can we expect a vintage performance?
Last season was a major setback by Altior’s standards.
His first defeat after 19 wins on the bounce was a race he really shouldn’t have participated in. The distance wasn’t right despite the speculation that Altior could stay further and he was up against a horse who relished the conditions, course and trip.
The result sent shockwaves throughout the jump racing fraternity. The social media build-up to the infamous Cyrname v Altior clash in the 1965 Ascot Chase was almost compared to that of the Brexit-Remain divide, with hearts and minds clashing over who would be the eventual winner.
One has to say that the minds won that day, as Altior was taking on an opponent who had confirmed strong form over the course and distance and was, at the time, the top rated chaser in the land.
A workmanlike performance followed in the Betfair Game Spirit Chase at Newbury with victory over Sceau Royal but Altior had not really recovered from his exertions with Cyrname and he was ultimately a late withdrawal, along with big rival Chacun Pour Soi, for the Champion Chase in March.
So can he win on Saturday?
He certainly looks as good as ever in the Nicky Henderson schooling video link above, jumping with his usual swagger and galloping impressively.
But he is now a 10-year-old and it will be slightly surprising if he can reproduce his form from two years ago. However, he has tremendous battling abilities and it will take something special to wrestle the lead away from him in a tense finish.
I select Altior to take this but he has plenty of dangers to fear.
5/6 best with William Hill.
Detractors of the current Champion Chaser Politologue will point to the glaring last minute withdrawals of Altior and Chacun Pour Soi along with Defi Du Seuil’s almost inexplicable collapse in the Champion Chase to explain the Paul Nicholl’s trained surprise win for the grey.
However, what many forget is that Politologue has patches of superb form from the last several seasons that would give him respectability in any Grade One clash.
He’s won this in 2017 and his 1½ length defeat to Altior in the 2019 Champion Chase also gives him an excellent chance in this renewal.
4/1 best with bet365, Betfair and Betfred.
The Paul Nicholls second string, Greaneteen, put himself into the picture with a narrow but impressive win in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter early last month.
That follows an equally eye-catching 4th in the Grand Annual at The Cheltenham Festival. All this suggests that there is much more to come from this progressive 6-year-old.
Might find the race experience of Politologue and Altior a bit hot for him on this occasion but should be there or thereabouts.
5/1 best with Betfair, Paddy Power and Betfred
Set The Champion Chase betting market alight with arguably the greatest handicap performance of the season so far, when he hammered a quality field at the Cheltenham Showcase Meeting in late October.
It was a vast improvement on Rouge Vif's 20 length third to Put The Kettle On in The Arkle. If he improves further, then it will certainly give the principles something to seriously think about.
Great each way chance at 7/1 with Betfair, Bet Victor and Unibet.
The race should certainly go to one of the four mentioned above. There are far better vibes coming out of Seven Barrows this time around compared to the pre-match build up to the Ascot race last year.
Altior has also had the added benefit of a racecourse gallop at Newbury which should give him that edge he needs. The two Paul Nicholls entries will certainly prove their worth and give Altior a race, but I think the big danger may come from Rouge Vif who could be anything after that brilliant win at Cheltenham.
Please note all odds are correct at the time of publishing (5pm 1st December 2020) and are subject to change.