It doesn’t get much better than 19 successive wins. That’s the record Altior boasts heading into his first race of the season at Ascot, with the nine-year-old gelding set to return to action in the 1965 Chase on 23rd November.
It will be a challenge for trainer Nicky Henderson’s horse to maintain his remarkable unbeaten run in jump events, but Altior has proved that he is a class above his challengers. The only reason for doubt is that it will be his first race of the season after a seventh-month break since winning at Sandown Park in April, and so rustiness may play a part.
Henderson has been quick to play up his horse’s prospects, stating that Altior’s work in the off-season has been extraordinary. “He’s absolutely flying and ready to go,” he said.
Altior’s record of consecutive wins is a world record for a jumps racehorse and one that stretches back to October 2015. Few could have predicted the run of success that would follow his first win at Chepstow but with every passing race, Altior went from strength to strength, quickly turning into the winning machine we see today.
April’s win in the Celebration Chase at Sandown ensured the winning run had lasted four full seasons – a remarkable feat by any standard. Altior’s form is already unprecedented, and so to enjoy a fifth unbeaten season over would be a monumental achievement. That may seem a record too far, but it will take a mighty performance to defeat him.
One potential stumbling block for Altior could be the presence of Cyrname in the upcoming 1965 Chase. The Paul Nicholls-trained horse is regarded as another of the finest steeplechasers in Britain, and the approaching clash between the two will spark huge interest.
If you’re betting today on horse racing with Betfair, you’ll find that Altior holds the edge in the odds for the 1965 Chase, but Cyrname has as good a chance as any challenger of toppling the unbeaten gelding. Cyrname closed out the 2018-19 season with two successive victories at Ascot, and that experience and expertise could play a part in causing an upset.
But those around Altior believe he can improve further. Henderson has entered the horse for the Betfair Chase, which is on the same day as 1965 Chase. It is the first race in the Jockey Club’s Chase Triple Crown, which offers a £1 million prize if a jockey can win all three. The Betfair Chase is run over three miles and one-and-a-half furlongs – a much greater distance than any race Altior has entered in the past.
Of course, Altior is unlikely to compete in the Betfair Chase as Ascot remains the priority, but to enter him speaks of how confident Henderson is in his horse’s abilities. If he believes he has the strength to compete in the Betfair Chase, then it’s difficult to see how Cyrname will strike any fear into Altior’s team.
The de Boinville factor:
Jockey Nico de Boinville must take an enormous amount of credit for Altior’s success. He has been in the saddle for 16 of the horse’s 19 wins over obstacles, and knows what it takes to guide Altior to victory. He has demonstrated impressive skill and composure when faced with the pressure of riding such a successful racehorse.
With de Boinville at the reins and Altior displaying the same power and strength he has shown for the last four seasons, it seems that little can stand in their way of even more success. A strong bond between horse and jockey is important to maximise performance, and it’s clear that this exists between the two.