Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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ALTIOR has won all of his five starts at Sandown Park and bids to add to that tally when he contests the £120,000 Grade 1 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase on Saturday.
Altior, the winner of 15 of his 16 chase starts, is targeting at tenth Grade 1 chase win and his second Tingle Creek victory having won the extended one mile and seven-furlong contest in 2018, when beating Un de Sceaux by four lengths.
Altior’s five wins at Sandown include three wins in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase (2017, 2018 and 2019) and the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in 2016.
A restricted season in 2019/20 saw Altior run only twice. He was second to Cyrname in a two-miles and five furlongs Grade 2 at Ascot and he will be making his first start since landing the Grade 2 Betfair Exchange Chase over an extended two miles at Newbury in February.
Speaking this week n a call hosted by Great British Racing, Henderson said: “We are all good. It has always been the objective to start Altior’s season in the Tingle Creek.
“I would like it to stay dry for the week as it would help us. Things have gone well and Altior seems to be enjoying himself. He had a gallop at Newbury and enjoyed that. He went round with Epatante and they went a good gallop.
“He schooled very well last week and is still electric over his fences. Put a fence in front of him and he is off and away. We are hopeful he is back.
“Altior was in very good form the week before Cheltenham [Festival 2020] and then got a splint,” Henderson continued. “There was no way he would get to Cheltenham and we were hopeful we could get him back for something later in the season, which obviously never took place.
“We therefore put him away and now start all over again.
“I don’t see any reason why Altior shouldn’t be as good as ever. At the beginning of March, we were really happy where we were and looking forward to the Champion Chase – it was just one of those frustrating niggles which happened with a week to go. He was favourite to the Champion Chase to retain his crown.
“He is the best two miler there has been for the last few years having taken over from Sprinter Sacre and I would like to think he can win it back. Sprinter Sacre went into the wilderness for two years and managed to fight it back. There was nothing sub-par about Altior, he just had an annoying splint.
“Sandown is a course that Altior enjoys. Down the back at Sandown, that back straight doesn’t get particularly soft so he bombs down there and then fully bounces back up the hill. He has been fantastic there in the past and enjoys it. Altior is a long way ahead of where he was going into Ascot last year in terms of fitness. He has had a racecourse gallop and is miles straighter than last year, there is no doubt about that.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.