Will Altior Ever Be Beaten Over Obstacles?

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Will Altior Ever Be Beaten Over Obstacles?

For starters, it is very hard to see anyone getting near to Altior in this season's Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Arguably his biggest rivals are the fences that lie ahead of him. His jumping - although slightly wayward at Ascot on Saturday in the Clarence House, will be suited to Cheltenham's left handed track, he is slick and fast through the air, immaculate in his approach to his obstacles, and has that stunning turn of foot capable to get him out of trouble if he is in it, to storm clear of the field up the iconic hill at Prestbury Park.

Now a 9yo, there does not seem to be a lot coming through the youth that could really land a blow to Nicky Henderson's stable-star. Footpad could of provided that threat until his first season out of Novice company went pair-shaped to the hands of Saint Calvados earlier on in the season - that being said he will have a chance to put that right in a fortnight's time at the Irish Gold Cup meeting at Leopardstown.

With Douvan out injured as well, it just seems a given that he streaks clear to land his fourth win at the Festival and his second Champion Chase, so will he ever be beaten?

We suppose the question really relies on where his future is determined. The Champion Trainer has given a few hints that Patricia Pugh - Altior's owner, does fancy stepping him up him trip next season, should everything go according to plan in the final few months of this campaign. He has accomplished everything over two miles, and could be given his first chance of a further trip at Aintree in perhaps the Melling Chase, but that would not see him racing over two-and-a-half for long.

The plan would be three miles, and a future crack at the Gold Cup (not the Ryanair), which means we could see him in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and or the King George at Kempton over Christmas, and this is where we could see the nut crack. Most racing fans want to see him smash up the three mile division, but should he fail, then attentions will turn to Nicky Henderson over his decision to step him up.

It is hard call to make, but with the three mile division much more competitive, this could spell the end for Altior's unbeaten supremacy. However, he has certainly wowed us before, and would it be a surprise if he continued his dominance in a different field of horses to the ones he smashes up week in week out? Probably not; because he is that good.

Rarely do we see horses of this nature; Douvan who we previously referred to, was on a roll of his own until unfortunate injuries blighted his recent campaigns. Altior though has moved on to seventeen unbeaten, and led home arguably one of the strongest races in recent years - the 2016 Supreme, beating Min who would of achieved everything himself if not coming into contact with the freak of his generation, along with dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D'Air.

Altior steams past the line over two miles so a gradual step-up will surely suit in the long term. Even looking at the current ante-post field for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in two months, Altior is eight pounds clear of closest pursuer Native River, and 15 clear of the current favourite for this year's renewal Presenting Percy.

The more and more you look into it, the more you feel Altior is simply relentless and whilst he is still in full working order at his optimum, it does not matter what distance he races at... he will not be beaten.

No matter what age he is, it will take some horse to get past the current 9yo gelding, who despite having a wind-op last terms, looks fit as a fiddle and surely has plenty of years ahead of him if keeping injury free; unlike Sprinter Sacre; a horse many are drawing comparisons to prior to his injury problems.

Kauto Star - one of the greatest of all time transitioned into a fine three mile chaser having raced over two in his early days. He landed the Tingle Creek - like Altior, at Sandown in 2006 before stepping up to three for the King George later in that very month.

Kauto Star though was eventually beaten, so there are records and standards for Altior to create himself.

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