The Seven Barrows’ superstar is coming off the back of his gritty victory in his second Champion Chase at Cheltenham roughly six weeks ago where he equalled Big Buck’s record of 18 wins in-a-row.
The majestic chaser will also be hoping to break another record this Saturday by winning his third Celebration Chase, something no horse has done before. It’s hard to believe he’s only nine years old, isn’t it!?
Along his remarkable run there have been so many memorable victories on behalf of Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson and we’ve documented the most momentous below.
Then a relative unknown, the rangy five-year-old was coming off the back off a fairly inconsistent spell in Bumpers prior to his first competitive Hurdles Race at Chepstow.
In his first hurdles start, Nicky Henderson’s charge made easy work of the field winning by a massive 34 lengths.
This was to act as a preview to the Jumps world of what might be to come and a precursor to his historic unbeaten record over fences.
Henderson’s smart jumper continued his good form in 2015/16, winning all of his next three over hurdles.
Yet, it wasn’t until March 2016 when he made his first serious impression on the wider racing public in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham, the gateway for many of Jump racing’s future elite.
Nico De Boinville charged up the Cheltenham Hill, laying waste to his counterparts to romp home in fashionable style.
In hindsight, a victory made more impressive given the strength of the renewal that year. The likes of Min, Buveur D’Air, Supasundae and Petit Mouchoir, all who have gone on to win Grade One races were left behind by the gallant Altior.
Following Altior’s first Cheltenham victory De Boinville said: “I was seriously impressed – all season we’ve been waiting for a proper pace.” Following on by saying “He’ll make a lovely chaser someday.”
However, surely even he couldn’t have foreseen the run they would go on together.
Consistency has been one of Altior’s many great traits, no matter what has gone before he turns up and gets the job done.
A trait emphasised when the then six-year-old to landed back-to-back Grade One wins for the first time at Kempton.
This time with Noel Fehily on board, Altior went off at 1/9, jumping freely around the Sandown track winning by six lengths and justifying his outright favouritism.
It wasn’t long before the great chaser was back at Cheltenham to continue his special affinity with the Gloucestershire track.
Setting off as the 1/4 favourite, there was a large amount of doubt that many of the others could challenge the then seven-year-old.
However, the race didn’t go entirely to plan as the Kim Bailey trained Charbel gave him a brief a scare. Yet, the outcome was the same, he charged up the hill as he had done 12 months prior, showcasing the finishing speed Nicky Henderson had so often preached to the racing public.
Henderson was unsurprisingly chipper that his improving young star had maintained his unbeaten run over fences.
He said: “We knew he’d come up the hill. He’s very, very good and there’s a lot to look forward to.”
Altior’s 13th straight win came during last year’s Cheltenham Festival. A mouth-watering race that featured three superstars, Min, Dovan and Altior.
During the race, Douvan looked to be travelling beautifully and looked a real threat four from home.
However, it was Altior that prevailed ahead of the Willie Mullins duo in particularly testing conditions to further etch his name in the history books as the only horse to complete a magnificent Cheltenham treble in winning the Supreme, Arkle and Champion Chase.
Following the race, his ever-present jockey Nico de Bionville said “that was sensational, he was in trouble all the way. Only his jumping kept him in it. It was a true test”.
He added: “I’m very lucky to be associated with him. He’s a freak.”
Altior made it 15 from 15 over fences after a thrilling renewal of the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown back in December last year.
The one mile, seven-and-a-half furlong race began in torrential rain, and 2016 winner Un De Sceaux, ridden by Ruby Walsh, set the pace on the testing ground.
Having been joined by Un De Sceaux in the home straight, Altior took the lead approaching the final fence and surged up the hill to win by four lengths.
De Boinville said “He’s just so relaxed and you just have to wind him up a bit and then he goes. That gallop was championship pace – on heavy ground.”
Altior equalled Big Buck’s record of 18 straight wins in his second Champion Chase.
His second Queen Mother victory cemented Altior’s place (if he wasn’t already) as one of the greatest ever two mile chasers of all-time.
The nine-year-old chaser also equalled another Nicky Henderson great – Sprinter Sacre’s record of two Champion Chases.
It wasn’t Altior’s greatest performance by any means, but he showed he is a true champion with that incredible finishing speed, and a huge amount of grit and determination to go on and win.
Find out on Saturday if Altior can surpass Big Buck’s record and win 19 races in-a-row in the Bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown Park.