Altior will bid to cement his status as one of the greatest minimum-distance chasers of all time at this month’s Cheltenham Festival. Last year he announced himself as a superstar by romping to victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and he is the clear favorite to defend his crown this time around. Altior remains unbeaten in jumps racing and he extended his winning streak to 17 races when clinching the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase in January. If he wins the Champion Chase again this month he will go down as a true titan of the National Hunt scene.
Altior is a hero among the betting public after landing the Queen Mother Champion Chase at even money (+100) last year. This is the leading minimum-distance chase in the British horseracing calendar and it always attracts huge attention and a number of wagers from bettors across the globe. Many lumped on Altior last year and he duly delivered, holding off a spirited challenge from Min to secure victory in front of the roaring crowd. It completed a spectacular double for veteran trainer Nicky Henderson, who also won the Champion Hurdle with Buveur D’Air.
Both horses went into the festival on long winning runs, but since then Buveur D’Air has lost his air of invincibility after finishing second to Verdana Blue in the Christmas Hurdle. You can find odds of 2/1 (+200) on him winning the Champion Hurdle for a third year running. However, Altior remains in formidable form and he is now just 2/5 (-250) to win the Champion Chase. Despite the short odds, he is still hugely popular with bettors and he has attracted the lion’s share of wagers on this race.
In the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival, betting sites will offer a range of tempting promotions in order to win new business. It is a key time of year for bookmakers, as Cheltenham is the most prestigious meeting in jumps racing, and bettors should be prepared to get the latest free bets for Cheltenham from various different sources. To make it easy for you, find a site that pulls together all the offers and make sure you capitalize on them. Some involve free bets, but others give you boosted odds on high-profile runners like Altior. Winnings often take the form of free bets, giving you credit to play around with in your account.
You could also use a free bet offer to oppose Altior, but that is a risky business. Min will be back for another crack at it, while Footpad and Sceau Royal might also make things interesting, but it is hard to see any of them toppling Altior. You could consider an each-way (win/place) on one of the challengers, as you can find tempting odds on all of them. Yet Altior deserves his status as the favorite.
The nine-year-old will carry the weight of expectation into the race, but Henderson is confident he can handle the pressure. “He has gone really well so far and he’s not put a foot wrong and he has had a little break, so he’ll be coming into it nice and fresh,” said the experienced trainer. “We’re getting to a point where anything other than a really good performance just won’t do, but there will be plenty of opposition for him.”
Irish maestro Willie Mullins will be desperate to pip Altior and he has a strong hand, with Min, Footpad and Un De Sceaux all well priced. Yet Altior has enjoyed a good rest and he will come into the race with fresh legs, so fans will expect him to secure a comfortable victory. It takes place on Wednesday, March 13, and it is run over 2 miles, with 12 fences to be jumped. Altior’s date with destiny has been set, and it will be thrilling to watch him attempt to join the pantheon of great multiple Champion Chase winners.