The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior extended his unbeaten run over fences to nine with a hard-fought victory in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown on the final day of the 2017/18 national hunt season on Saturday. A comfortable three and three quarter length win for the 2-11 favourite over the exposed San Benedeto will not go down as one of the eight-year-old’s most impressive performances and the son of High Chapparal will need to bring his A game to the table if the anticipated clash with Willie Mullins’ leading novice Footpad takes place next season. The current Queen Mother Champion Chase winner is a top price 7/4 with William Hill and Betfred to retain his title next March with Footpad clear second best in the ante-post market at 5/1 with Coral.
Henderson’s Top Notch always looked in control of the Grade 2 bet365 Oaksey Chase, the 4-5 favourite recording a clear-cut two and three quarter length victory over Art Mauresque in the hands of Daryl Jacob after taking up the running at the second-last from stablemate O O Seven. The Seven Barrows handler made it four for the day when Soul Emotion ran out an easy winner of the final race on the card but the performance of the day came from Henderson’s Call Me Lord in the bet365 Select Hurdle.
A dual scorer at Sandown and a neck runner-up conceding lumps of weight to the winner Mr Antolini in this season’s Imperial Cup at the Esher venue, the Slickly gelding was deserted by usual partner Daryl Jacob who chose to ride Wholestone for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede due to the trip of just short of three mile, a decision he would come to regret as substitute Nico de Boinville had little more than a steering job as Call Me Lord stormed home by sixteen lengths from a solid yardstick in Lil Rockerfeller, earning a quote of 20/1 from Paddy Power for next years Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.