A supreme Champion – five of Altior’s best performances

Horse Racing

All-time great repeatedly surged clear of his rivals.

With news of Altior’s retirement, PA Racing takes a look back at five of his best performances:

1) Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle, Cheltenham, 2016

Altior jumps the last in the Supreme with eventual third Buveur D'Air in red
Altior jumps the last in the Supreme with eventual third Buveur D’Air in red (David Davies/PA)

Quite incredibly this remains the last time Altior was not sent off as favourite – and in only one of those was he bigger than even money, for his last ever race. It is not that surprising, given how impressive he was this day, slamming a top-class horse in Min by seven lengths. Nicky Henderson also supplied the third in the race – subsequent dual Champion Hurdle winner in Buveur D’Air.

2) Betfair Exchange Chase, Newbury, 2017

Nobody else in sight as Altior cruises to victory in the Game Spirit
Nobody else in sight as Altior cruises to victory in the Game Spirit (Julian Herbert/PA)

In what was seen as quite a bold move by Henderson, he ran the promising novice against far more experienced rivals in a race known universally as the Game Spirit Chase. He clearly knew what he had on his hands, though – and by being positive on him, Nico de Boinville almost took the experience factor out of the equation by making almost all of the running. He beat Fox Norton by an eased-down 13 lengths – and Colin Tizzard’s chaser almost won the Champion Chase a month later.

3) bet365 Celebration Chase, Sandown, 2017

Altior leads Champion Chaser Special Tiara over the last - he was still a novice
Altior leads Champion Chaser Special Tiara over the last – he was still a novice (Julian Herbert/PA)

Fox Norton was denied at Cheltenham by Henry de Bromhead’s Special Tiara, and he was the next challenge for Altior in Sandown’s season finale. Not forgetting Altior was still a novice, he was sent off the 30-100 favourite, and his famed power-packed finish was really in evidence. While the race was still in the balance two out, Altior took off after jumping the last and stormed away to win by eight lengths.

4) Betfair Tingle Creek, Sandown, 2017

Altior denied the brave challenge of Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek
Altior denied the brave challenge of Un De Sceaux in the Tingle Creek (John Walton/PA)

While to date Altior had seen off all-comers under all conditions, there was one Irish horse who loved jumping fences almost as much as Altior – but also loved the mud. Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceaux was a winning machine, who would retire with a record of 23 wins from 34 races – but he was at his best when the ground was almost unraceable. It was not that bad at Sandown, although a heavy downpour pre-race made it look worse than it was. Altior nonetheless needed all of that trademark late surge to prevail – in the end by four lengths.

5) Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, Cheltenham 2019

Altior surges up the hill to win a second Queen Mother
Altior surges up the hill to win a second Queen Mother (Paul Harding/PA)

This was arguably the performance for which Altior will always be best remembered. Nico de Boinville looked in trouble turning into the straight. In front further out than normal and having taken up the running three from home, he failed to power clear. Headed on jumping the last, the Cheltenham crowd were giving him every encouragement, and it was not until deep inside the final furlong that he began to power away, eventually winning by a length and three-quarters from Politologue – who would win the race the following year in Altior’s absence.

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