Altior is just Champion, again
The Queen Mother Champion Chase will give Cheltenham fans the chance to watch jumps racing’s brightest star, Altior, strutting his stuff on the sport’s finest stage.
The reigning two-mile kingpin is bidding to make it 18 wins over jumps and become the first horse since Master Minded (2008) to retain this crown.
Nicky Henderson’s awesome beast has never tasted defeat over obstacles and he is 2/5 with Betfred to maintain that sequence.
On all known evidence, it would be churlish to suggest anything other than an Altior win looks likely here. He’s three-from-three this term and has not looked like getting beat. Altior jumps so well that an accident is very unlikely.
His supporters were given the briefest scare in the Queen Mother last March when he appeared to be needing cajoling from Nico De Boinville for a few strides mid-race, though he was soon back on an even keel and came home with seven-lengths to spare on Min at the line.
He’s faultless in every way and while talk of moving up in trip will come at the end of this season, for now he is a star attraction and can continue to dismiss his rivals in customary style.
Min is back for another bite and is next best in the betting at 5/1 for Willie Mullins.
He’s played second fiddle to Altior both last year and in the 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He’s the most likely to take the bridesmaid’s role once more and returns to Cheltenham after an easy Grade 1 win in Ireland last time.
His stablemate Footpad was the big hope in terms of an emerging rival for Altior after his Arkle success last March but things have nosedived for him this season. Talk of a Ryanair Chase tilt is ever-increasing lately. He has major questions to answer, wherever he runs.
Saint Calvados hasn’t been able to build on his promising win in Ireland early in the winter and, given his boilover in last year’s Arkle, the hustle and bustle of this contest may not be for him.
Given that Altior looks unbeatable, it might be worth having a play on Fox Norton to sneak some place money at 20/1 should trainer Colin Tizzard elect to go for this race.
Odds subject to change.
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