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'Absolute warrior' Altior takes Champion Chase at Cheltenham

The 18-race unbeaten run equals that of staying hurdler Big Buck’s between 2009-13.

Jockey Nico de Boinville celebrates on Altior after winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Jockey Nico de Boinville celebrates on Altior after winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Image: Paul Harding

ALTIOR EQUALLED THE record for successive wins over jumps with his 18th on Wednesday surviving a couple of scares to retain his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at the Cheltenham Festival.

The two mile chaser — who legendary jockey AP McCoy says has everything you want in a champion in terms of courage and class — looked under pressure coming to the last challenged by Politologue and Sceau Royal.

However, Nico de Boinville roused a second wind out of him and he strode clear after the last to give trainer Nicky Henderson his 63rd winner at the Festival to draw level with Willie Mullins on the all-time list. 

Altior’s 18 race unbeaten run — he has never been beaten over obstacles — equals that of staying hurdler Big Bucks between 2009-13. 

“He is an absolute warrior,” said de Boinville, who self deprecatory as always put down a rare mistake at the water to “bad riding”.

“I thought they were coming to me as the ground was against him. What an absolute monster!

“Are we not lucky in this age to have someone like him.

“An absolute privilege to ride.”

De Boinville, 29, who is one of the more laid back riders taking a snooze before each ride, would not be so bold to rate him the greatest of all time. 

“He is right up there but I will not denigrate those other champions.

“We will enjoy the moment, it is my final ride of the day,” said de Boinville, who added he would not say how he would celebrate as it would sound too boring.

For Henderson it ended a largely frustrating couple of days — his hopes Buveur d’Air would win a third successive Champion Hurdle dashed by a fall early on — and he had looked especially tense pre the race.

However, there was the odd tear afterwards as he welcomed back his stable star to the Festival winners enclosure for the fourth time. 

“To find another champion like Sprinter Sacre is really special,” said the 68-year-old trainer.

“Nico is special too he started with us as an amateur was known as Sprinter’s work rider now he has made it right at the top.”

© AFP 2019

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