It’s obvious I know and there’s not too many jockeys that wouldn’t like to be riding Altior at the Festival. Nicky Henderson’s novice chaser was a very good winner of last year’s Supreme Novices Hurdle and is going to take a lot of beating in the Arkle Chase this year.
He seems to handle all types of ground and doesn’t get ruffled by anyone taking him on for the lead either.
Quite simply, he just looks the best horse in the race by a distance and if there is any chink in his armour, I haven’t seen it yet.
England’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls has a great record in this contest. I won it on Sanctuaire in 2006 for him and he’s won the last two runnings with Qualando and Diego du Charmil and often has horses placed too.
He finished sixth of ninth on his debut behind Charli Parcs at Kempton and then beat Molineaux by seven lengths on his next start at Wincanton. The four-year-old is due to carry 10-04 in this contest and looks an improver to me.
A very good bumper horse who has been progressing really nicely over timber. Won the 2m 4f handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse last weekend that stablemate Mall Dini was third in last year, before he went on to win the Pertemps Final.
The UK handicapper hasn’t done him any favours by giving him 146 (rated 140 in Ireland) and while he’s followed a similar enough path to Mall Dini he looks a classier version of his stablemate.
He finished fourth to Willie Mullins’ Isleofhopenaddreams on his first try at 3m and the second-placed Sutton Manor has franked the form by winning at Thurles since.
Although he won at Fairyhouse on testing ground, he’s by Presenting, so should be better on a firmer surface.
I’d expect Noel Fehily to renew his acquaintance with Harry Fry’s stayer after Barry Geraghty was ruled out of the Festival after his fall from Charli Parcs at Kempton. Noel rode him to win the Albert Bartlett last year.
I love the horse’s attitude, the way he jumps, and how he settles in his races, conserving energy for what will be a punishing climb up Cleeve Hill.
He’s been on a winning run all season and I don’t expect it to stop in the Stayers Hurdle.