Horse Racing

In Which Race Will Altior Run at the Cheltenham Festival 2020?


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Unbeaten in all fourteen starts over fences (and five over hurdles), leading two mile chaser Altior is set to step up in trip this season, with Kempton’s Ladbrokes King George V1 Chase on Boxing Day the nine-year-old’s first major target.

Following the High Chaparral gelding’s first attempt at three miles (the horse has yet to race beyond 2m 2f) later this year, the star chaser’s stamina (or lack of it) will decide which race the Seven Barrow’s inmate will contest at the Cheltenham Festival.

Will Altior Emulate the Great Desert Orchid

The popular grey, Desert Orchid, won the first of his four King George’s in 1986 as an unconsidered 16-1 chance, due to the horse’s suspect stamina, before the great chaser went on to record victories over even further, in races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Irish Grand National. Twenty years later, another certain horse by the name of Kauto Star, won the first of his record five King George successes, also as a suspect stayer, prior to going one better than Desert Orchid in claiming two Gold Cups at Prestbury Park.

Desert Orchid prior to his 1st King George victory @kemptonparkrace Went off at 16-1! pic.twitter.com/QdHNPM6i8n— E L M (@KANZ1981TMTC) January 28, 2019  

While it is hard to imagine Altior emulating both of those great national hunt performers, a win in the Ladbroke-sponsored Christmas highlight would almost certainly see the Nicky Henderson-trained superstar head to next year’s Cheltenham Festival, with the Magners Gold Cup as his preferred target. Due to start the current campaign at Ascot in the 2m 5f Christy 1965 Chase on Saturday 23rd November, Altior will then (all being well) head to the King George, for which he is a top price 5-2 with most bookmakers.

Other Festival Options

Should Kempton’s three mile trip prove beyond Altior, connections will then have to decide between the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which the gelding has won at the last two festivals, or the four and a half furlong further Ryanair Chase. A standout 5-1 with 888Sport for the two mile Championship contest, Altior is as big as 11-1 with Sportpesa for the longer race on the following day (Thursday). 

Conclusion

Odds of 5-1 for the Champion Chase, or 11-1 for the Ryanair, would prove generous to say the least should connections take either route, but Altior looks to be crying out for a longer trip, based on last season’s efforts, so anyone taking the 20-1 available with Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power for the highlight on the final day of the greatest Jumps meeting in the world, could find themselves with a tremendous value bet come the day of the race.