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Can Altior win a third straight Champion Chase?

03-February-2020 12:35
in General
by Peter McNeile

Andoversford played host to one of the National Hunt calendar's oldest races when inaugurating the Grand Annual Chase in 1834. The race was ceded to Cheltenham last century, and its distance reduced from over 3 miles to the shortest distance of 2 miles, and latterly has been made a handicap. Nevertheless, its credentials ars still strong enough that winners have risen to compete at the highest level over the shortest trip thre subsequent season. 

The best known two miler presently is Nicky Henderson's Altior, presently on track for his third straight Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival 2020. The back to back winner of the Champion Chase has collected silverware from nearly every race he has been entered. Altior has posted a 20-1-1 record from 23 race starts. Horse racing enthusiasts are gearing up for the Champion Chase. Punters can receive free bets offers for the Cheltenham Festival ahead of the four-day event to wager on the horses they believe will win the Champion Chase.

Altior put together 19 straight race wins before a second-place finish in November at Ascot in the Grade 2 Christy 1965 Chase. Despite the setback, Altior is still one of the top-rated horses going into the 2020 Champion Chase. Antepost betting odds have Altior listed as 5/2 to win a third time. Henderson’s horse is second-favourite behind Defi Du Seuil, who is 7/4 to win the Champion Chase.

Defi Du Seuil is trained by Minehead-based  Philip Hobbs and goes into the race having won the JLT Novices’ Chase a year ago. It was a great win for Hobbs’ horse, reinforcing Philip's position as a leading Festival trainer.

Although A ltior may have finished second in the Christy 1965 Chase, Henderson is considering his options for the next prep race for the two-time winner of the Champion Chase. Henderson did not race Altior at Kempton in January favouring a possible February race at Newbury this weekend. The legendary trainer has outlined the Game Spirit Chase on Saturday. However, nothing is set in stone for Alitor to run in the race.

There is a fear that Altior may not be able to rekindle his best form for Cheltenham. According to Henderson, it has been a “frustrating time” recently with Altior. The trainer stated Altior was “very tired” at the finish of the Christy 1965 Chase. Altior’s race fitness must be improved in the lead-up to Cheltenham, but there is no guarantee the 10-year-old will return to his previous heights.

Henderson’s Seven Barrows stable has seen a number of injuries to its top race horses. The trainer hopes the issues will get better in the next few weeks before the Cheltenham Festival begins on March 10.

Altior’s 19 race unbeaten run was ended by Cyrname at the Christy 1965 Chase, and Cyrname wil renew rivalry in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.  Cyrname is 8/1 to win the Champion Chase.

Henderson has admitted Altior was not fit to race in the Christy 1965 Chase. In retrospect, it was a poor decision to run him at Ascot and in the long run, could affect Altior at the Champion Chase.

Can Altior win the Champion Chase for a third year in a row? It will be a tough ask for the 10-year-old due to the form he is experiencing currently. Defi Du Seuil is being tipped to end Altior’s winning streak in the race and could very well do it. No horse has won three Champion Chases since Badsworth Boy for Michael Dickinson in 1983-5. It's a tough ask even for the best rated horse in the UK.

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