The opposition to Altior and Cyrname in Saturday’s hotly anticipated Christy 1965 Chase appeared to melt away further as the week progressed with Keeper Hill joining Top Notch as an unlikely runner.
The Dan Skelton-trained Solomon Grey is the only other possible Ascot rival to the two highest-rated British horses in training
Hollywoodbet’s Neil Morrice writes that all roads lead to Ascot on Saturday for a mouth watering clash of equine giants Altior and Cyrname that should see the course full to capacity whilst answering some unanswered questions as to which routes the respective horses will take for the remainder of the season.
Shading favouritism at 4-5 with Hollywoodbets is Altior, a four times Cheltenham Festival winner who has won 20 of his 22 career starts for trainer Nicky Henderson.
Many admirers of the 9yo felt he wasn’t at his best last season but the statistics prove otherwise. He went through the campaign unbeaten in five and if succeeding today will stretch his overall unbeaten sequence to 20. He has won all five starts over hurdles and is unbeaten in 14 chases, including an Arkle and two Champion Chases.
His jockey Nico de Boinville is unbeaten in 17 rides on the 175-rated Gelding hero and will not hear of defeat for him, a dual scorer at Ascot and unbeaten over obstacles. De Boinville said: “We know Cyrname is bound to be fit and will give us a tow round, but I won’t be riding Altior any differently. I don’t think he’s an underdog in this clash, but if things don’t work out he can always drop back to be dominant over two miles.”
Henderson is sportingly taking Altior up another level on the distance ladder to give the jumping cognoscenti the clash everyone wants to see and the trainer is only too aware that so far his career has been all about speed. However, if the gelding successfully rises to the challenge today there’s every chance he will then step up to three miles for a shot at the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.