Altior gave his supporters a couple of frights but eventually proved to be the certainty he was supposed to be and won his second Queen Mother Champion Chase, the feature race on day two at the Cheltenham Festival. His unbeaten record in jump races now extends to 18 races, matching the world record set by Big Buck’s.
“He’s an absolute warrior,” said his jockey, Nico De Boinville, winning his first race of the week. “I thought they were just coming to me at the last there. This ground wasn’t ideal for him, it was really holding and he found it hard work. What an absolute monster and aren’t we lucky to be in an age where he’s here?”
The first of two nail-biting moments for those who took odds of 4-11 came at the water jump on the far side of the course, when Altior made an uncharacteristic error. He recovered quickly but the incident energised a crowd that had been somewhat taking the outcome for granted. De Boinville put the jumping mistake down to “miscommunication. Bad riding, I’d call it.”
All seemed to be going well again as Altior cruised past Saint Calvados into the lead at the turn for home but he then hit his familiar flat spot, which this year came at an unhelpfully late stage between the final two fences. Spectators were shocked to see the outside Sceau Royal take off first at the final fence, while Altior was also being pressed by Politologue.
Just a few strides after landing, Altior was back in front and he eventually asserted to score by a length and three-quarters from Politologue, with Sceau Royal the same distance back in third. The Irish raider Min was a disappointing fifth.
Altior has now won at four consecutive Festivals, having also landed the 2017 Arkle and the Supreme Novice Hurdle of 2016. But the manner of this victory suggests he might be ready for a step up in distance and a tilt at the King George on Boxing Day over three miles now seems probable.