... “If Altior runs up to form, then he wins – it is as simple as that”...
This looks a decent Ballymore and, being honest, I think if Bright Forecast finishes in the first six then he will have done well. But maybe I am being unduly pessimistic. He didn’t surprise us that much when winning on soft ground on his hurdling debut at Newbury back in November, and he has since progressed to win at Leicester and then run a cracker to finish second to Mister Fisher in the Rossington Main at Haydock.
He didn’t look to help himself there going wide round the bend that day but he ran really well, even if the third hasn’t advertised the form since. I definitely think the step up in trip will suit this winning pointer and he did a nice piece of work with Le Breuil last week.
As you have probably read, he hasn’t had the ideal run-up to this race. The problem with a lost shoe after his racecourse gallop at Newbury lingered far more than we would have liked. But these things happen in racing, and we just have to rely on the appropriate teams to deal with the problem as best as possible. Of course, it is frustrating though, as Santini has looked a natural for this race all season. It’s the ultimate cliché but whatever he did over hurdles was always going to be a bonus – and he was a very fair hurdler as well, finishing third in an Albert Bartlett and then winning his Grade 1 at Aintree – and I don’t think he could have run a much better trial for this race than he did when third in the Kauto Star over Christmas.
This track will suit him a lot better, and the soft ground is ideal for him. I fully respect Delta Work and Topofhegame, who finished in front of him at Kempton – and there are a few other dangerous rivals in this race - but my horse has a big chance, in spite of that troubled prep.
We haven’t seen him since he was pulled up on his reappearance at Wincanton on Boxing Day, so he has plenty to prove in a race of this depth and level of competition. But at least he was dropped 2lb for it and we know that he has a very impressive record around here, and finished fourth in this race last year off this mark, not beaten far at all.
He handles soft ground really well, and the break he has had since Wincanton could be a positive. He comes here a fresh horse and has a good record off the kind of short break that he has had. And hopefully the wind op has helped, too.
3.30pm - CHAMPION CHASE - Altior
There is never too much new to say about the good ones, and Altior is one of the best. Usual comments apply to him then, and that is that he will win if he runs up to form, it’s as simple as that. Min is probably his main rival, and we know what my horse has consistently done to him when we have met in the past.
The ground really shouldn’t be an excuse, unless it gets very bad, and I don’t have any concerns about his jumping. Everyone went a bit overboard about him diving out to the left at Ascot** last time – I don’t often get annoyed, but I did when I read and heard what some said in the aftermath of that run – but I can tell you he has been as straight as I die at home since. He was his usual electric self when I schooled him over five fences last Thursday, and we couldn’t be happier with him. He’s just an unbelievable horse, a star.
Altior is among our free horse racing tips for Wednesday.
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