Horse Racing

Altior primed to challenge for King George and Gold Cup honours

Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson, has dominated the 2 mile National Hunt horse racing scene for multiple seasons, winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in both 2018 & 2019, after winning the 2017 Arkle at Cheltenham – and remains unbeaten under NH rules, having won 19 out of 19 races.

Since Altior took to fences, after winning all five starts over hurdles, he has been favourite on each occasion, and his starting odds have never been odds against – Evens being his longest odds for the 2018 Queen Mother.

Such has been his dominance, and having seen off every horse having the impudence to challenge him, and having won well over £1 million in prize money over the shorter distances, that trainer Nicky Henderson has decided that the new 2019/20 National Hunt season will be the one where Altior goes up in trip, and looks set to challenge for the King George in December and, all being well, attempt to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March – a feat (winning both the Queen Mother & Gold Cup) that few horses, if any, in National Hunt history have achieved.

Although Altior has won his last few races and maintained his 100% record, his regular pilot, Nico de Boinville, has said that Altior is ready to get further trips and challenge for other honours. It seems that Henderson is now ready to unleash his star against the likes of stable companion Might Bite, Native River, Kemboy (above) and 2018 King George winner Clan des Obeaux – as well as 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo.

When interviewed by AtTheRaces during a stable tour, Henderson (above) confirmed that three mile trips would be the focus for Altior : “Well what more can you say about him he has done it all and keeps doing it. The question is what we do next and find out if three miles is within his reach. If we start off back in the Tingle Creek it wouldn’t necessarily be the best way into the King George. I am not that keen on the Betfair Chase and the best option may well be the Ascot Chase. Everything has gone smoothly for Altior and we recauterised his palate this summer which was purely precautionary as he hadn’t had it done for two years. Nico (de Boinville) is adamant he wants another half a mile so let’s find out.

Henderson could always switch back to the Queen Mother at Cheltenham next March should the extra distance not be to Altior’s taste. However, if everything does go well, then the Gold Cup will also be in consideration as Altior looks to further etch his name in the National Hunt history books. Altior will be 10 by the time the Gold Cup comes around, and it will be over 20 years since a 10 year old has won the NH Blue Riband race (Cool Dawn – 1998) – but if anyone can – Altior can.

Along with Tiger Roll’s attempt to make Grand National history, the 2019/20 season could really be one that will go down in history as THE best ever National Hunt season.

ALTIOR – MAJOR RACE VICTORIES

  • Wayward Lad Novices Chase (2016)
  • Game Spirit Chase (2017, 2018)
  • Arkle Challenge Chase (2017)
  • Tingle Creek Chase (2018)
  • QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE (2018, 2019)
  • Celebration Chase (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Desert Orchid Chase (2018)
  • Clarence House Chase (2019)