Sat, 08 Feb 2020
SEVEN Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson believes Altior’s confidence has been boosted after success in the Betfair Exchange Steeple Chase on Super Saturday at Newbury.
The 10-year-old had to dig deep, but completed the challenge of winning the race for a third successive year.
It was the first time that Altior had run since his defeat to Cyrname in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.
And Henderson was delighted to see the two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner bounce back on his home track.
“He was keen early and he was enjoying himself, he took a blow but the gears worked very well.
“There is improvement to come, but it would have done his confidence the world of good because it wasn’t nice at Ascot and it took a lot of getting over it.
“I was fairly confident, but you have to be ready to take anything because that is what racing is all about and you have to face these things if they go wrong.”
As a result of the win, Altior will now head to the Cheltenham Festival, bidding to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase for a third year running.
“It is lining up to be a very competitive Queen Mother,” admitted Henderson. “We just have to keep the ball rolling and it takes a lot of work, but he has had a nice race and it would have done him the world of good.
“We were under pressure, but it is nice because he is a good horse and I am not going to say he was a good horse because he is a good horse and he always has been.”
Meanwhile, the trainer is still unsure which route to take with Chantry House as the Cheltenham Festival approaches next month.
The six-year-old edged out Manvers House to win the Betfair Exchange Novices Hurdle, in the opening race at Newbury.
Chantry House is a possibility for the Supreme Novices on day one of the festival, as well as the Ballymore Novices Hurdle on day two.
“He could go either way, we know he stays and he has got the speed,” said Henderson. Barry [Geraghty] says that he races very sweetly, kindly and gently and he isn’t aggressive in anyway - he travels away, you press the button and it works.
“You have to be pleased because he got away very nicely, he is a very nice horse and he’s a chaser in the making which is the nice thing about it,” he added.
One For The Team powered to victory in the Betfair Handicap Hurdle, finishing ahead of Dolphin Square in second and Dell’ Arca in third.
Elsewhere, the Colin Tizzard-trained Native River secured a third straight Denman Chase victory, holding off pressure from Secret Investor.
Priced at 33/1, there was a shock winner in the Betfair Hurdle as the Paul Nicholls-trained Pic D’Orhy came home first in the featured race ahead of Ciel De Neige in second and Remiluc in third.
Sussex Ranger battled hard to win the penultimate race of the afternoon, pulling well clear of Mont Des Avaloirs after the final fence.
In the final race of the day, Lambourn trainer Roger Teal secured a win as Ocean Wind stormed to victory, ahead of Brief Ambition in second and Champagnesuperover in third.