I Wasn't Overly Impressed With Altior Until Last Fence
Chantry House was impressive in winning the Novice Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.
He beat Manvers House rated 123 so to be fair he should have done that anyway; he did no more than I expected him to do.
JP McManus and Nicky Henderson are starting to come up with some very nice novice hurdlers.
Nicky seems to have a strong team. It was disappointing that Exeter was called off on Sunday because it would have been exciting to see JP’s Sporting John run there.
Altior was on a bit of a retrieval mission having being well beaten when he stepped up in trip at Ascot in November. On Saturday, he did what he always does over two miles. His turn of foot from the back of the last to the winning post was most impressive.
I wasn’t overly impressed with him until the last fence to be honest. His jumping was only ok. It was a bit high and big at times but when Nico de Boinville got stuck into him at the last fence he really quickened up smartly.
His jumping isn’t what you would expect from a two miler. He is a little bit cautious. He definitely wouldn’t jump as quick as Defi Du Seuil or Chacun Pour Soi so that’s one thing they have in their armour.
Two miles around Cheltenham is bang up his street.
He will come up that hill from the back of the last to the winning post quicker than any other horse; that is guaranteed.
Again, he beat rivals you would expect him to beat. His team say there is plenty of improvement to come from him for Cheltenham. There probably does need to be improvement but in my eyes he is still the one we all have to beat. He is a dual Champion chaser and he is the one they all have to step up to and beat.
Native River didn’t have a whole lot of competition to beat either. His old mate Might Bite finished third but he looks a thing of the past. He isn’t the force he was a couple of seasons ago.
The blinkers seemed to have rejuvenated Native River and he went a decent gallop all the way and quickened up well.
I know the Tizzards still rate him as a serious Gold Cup contender and you probably do have to see him like that on the back of his run at Newbury. He definitely goes there with a strong each-way chance.
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