Five Horses To Watch Out For This Weekend - 04/12/2018

1. Altior

The beast is back.

Nicky Henderson's superstar Buveur D'Air returned to victory in the Fighting Fifth last weekend, and another one of his Champions is back on the scene; the almighty Altior.

Unbeaten over obstacles, Altior is a three-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, and begins his quest to defend his Champion Chase crown, with the Tingle Creek in mind this weekend.

Altior sauntered up the run-in at Cheltenham back in March, and looks a class apart from anyone in the division at the moment. On the tip of immortality, all eyes will be on Sandown on Saturday, as the monster - Altior returns.

2. Black Op

Last season's Ballymore runner-up Black Op, is due to make his eagerly anticipated debut over fences at Exeter on Friday.

Tom George's 7yo was scheduled to begin his chasing campaign last month, but concerns over the ground prevented him from doing so.

Black Op was in fine form last year, and in the past twelve months, has only been beaten by Samcro and Santini, two top novices from last season.

He ended his campaign with victory in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices Hurdle at Aintree, and fences look the route to go for further progression.

3. Ballyoptic

Nigel Twiston-Davies seems to have finally found Ballyoptic's optimum trip, and a Grand National quest looks to be on the cards.

He will begin that dream with the Becher Chase over the National jumps at Aintree on Saturday, on what will be his first start since April.

His first start also since finishing the narrowest of second's possible in the Scottish equivalent of the Grand National, when the Rebecca Curtis-trained Joe Farrell, just denied him by a nose.

Now 9yo, he was fourth in the RSA back at Cheltenham, and was staying on strongly up the hill. Stamina assured, the distance now seems to suit, and Ballyoptic is one to watch ahead of the Becher.

4. Double Shuffle

Double Shuffle, who so cruelly fell at the first fence in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, looks to put things right in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree.

The Tom George-trained 8yo, ran several almighty races last season, including second in the Christy 1965 Chase to Top Notch, before only finishing a length to eventual Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite, in the King George at Kempton.

He was ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival through injury, and it will be a great sight to see him back doing, what he does best.

5. Lalor

Whilst Kalashnikov jogged around Plumpton on Monday, Lalor will also look to make it two from two over fences, in the Henry VIII Novices Chase at Sandown.

A race in which Altior won two years ago, Lalor can once again throw down his strong-looking credentials for whats heating up to be a very busy Arkle Chase, by following up from his win in the trial.

He jumped impressively round Prestbury Park, and if getting his ideal position, will be hard to pass.

A real likeable character too, and incredible story with Kayley Woollacott now training him.