Cheltenham Races

The Nicky Henderson trained Altior made it 19 in a row on the final jump’s day of the season with a workmanlike performance at Sandown. He went into the contest tied with the great Big Bucks on 18 wins in a row. But now he is in sole charge of that record thanks to the win.

There was a moment of panic for his supporters when he was pushed along by jockey Nico de Boinville. Sceau Royal was in behind and seemingly cruising on the bridle. However, better jumping from Altior quickly got his opponent off the bridle. And just like we are used to he stormed up the running. He completely outstayed his rivals to land another success.

This horse has simply dominated the two-mile chasing division for the past couple of years. Perhaps the greatest compliment you can pay is that there is every chance that this is not his best distance. He has broken the record for the most consecutive wins in a row, possibly over a distance that may not be his best. So it highlights just how impressive this horse has been for the past couple of seasons.

The biggest question to be answered over the summer is where this horse will go next? The plan right now is for him to eventually find his way to the King George. Run over three miles which is an intriguing prospect for Altior. Plans for after that will not be made until his performance can be evaluated.

However, it is his preparation race before the King George that could cause Henderson the biggest headache. There are two options over two and three miles in the shape of the Tingle Creek and the Betfair Chase. Although Henderson has said that in an ideal world, Altior’s first outing would be over two and a half miles to get him ready for the step up in trip.

If that is the case then we could see the horse go up to Aintree for his first run, in the Old Roan Chase. This is a very good race, but it is a handicap so Altior would have a lot of weight on his back. Clearly, this would not be ideal for his first run of the season.

There are other options, but those are a little too close to the King George. So it will be an interesting decision that Henderson has to make over the summer. For now, though, it is time to let his superstar relax in the field. The rest of us can reflect on what has been a remarkable career so far.

He will be back next year, and when he steps up in trip he could turn out to be even better than what we have seen so far. A frightening prospect for those lining up to take him on!