by Dave Metcalf
Dave has over 30 years’ experience in the media industry having worked for regional and national newspapers. He is a huge horse racing and football fan and has done interviews on various radio and TV stations, including talkSPORT and Sky Sports, whilst working as a PR front man for a betting firm. David has also written for At The Races, Coral News, the Daily Mirror and Racing Plus newspaper. He produced a Cheltenham Festival guide with former eight-times champion national hunt jockey Peter Scudamore, MBE, after helping him to set up a syndicate for his trainer son Michael.
Altior Digs Deep to Retain Queen Mother Crown
Altior showed that he was all heart as well as class when digging deep to retain his crown in the Grade 1 Queen Mother Chase on day two of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. In doing so the Nicky Henderson trained nine-year-old set ab outright world record for the longest winning sequence over fences with a 13th success.
However, it was not plain sailing for the 4/11 favourite who made a mistake at the water jump and was headed on the run for home after a slow leap at the last. Altior looked in trouble, but then showed displayed his trademark grit and tenacity to rally strongly under regular pilot Nico De Boinville and power up the famous Cheltenham hill to win going away at the line by 1 3/4 lengths in the two-mile chasing championship.
The Paul Nicholls trained Politologue ran the race of his life to finish, with Sceau Royale finishing a further l1 3/4 lengths back in third.
De Boinville Hails “Phenomenal Athlete“
De Boinville who registering his third victory in the race overall (Sprinter Sacre 2016 & Altior 2018), was full of praise of Altior, who also took his earnings well past the £1 million mark equalled Big Buck’s’ record of 18 straight wins.
Ne said: “Altior is an absolutely warrior. We were just slightly coming unstuck on that ground. We had a bit of a miss-communication at the water jump, when he wanted to go long and I wanted him to come in and pop because I didn’t want him to get too exuberant over those fences and waste too much energy.
“We definitely went half a length down after the last, but he just seemed to find this extra gear. I don’t know where it comes from – he is just a phenomenal athlete. I think he doesn’t know how to lose at the moment. Long may it continue!
Altior is 3/1 favourite with Betfred for next year’s Champion Chase.
Tiger Roll Raises the Roof with Cross Country Romp
Tiger Roll produced one of the biggest cheers of the meeting so far when romping to a wide-margin success in the 3m 6f Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. It was his fourth success at the famous meeting and cemented his position as one of the all time favourites in the history of the Cheltenham Festival.
It was a back-to-back success in the race for last year’s Grand National hero, with his previous wins at the four-day spectacular coming in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle (2014) and National Hunt Chase (2017).
After being sent off the 5/4 favourite, the Gordon Elliott trained nine-year-old tanked through the race under jockey Keith Donoghue and after taking up the running five out and scooted clear after jumping the second last to register a facile 22 length success over last year’s runner-up Josies Orders.
The stunning display saw Paddy Power shorten Tiger Roll – one the the most popular jumps’ horses in training – to 6/1, from 10/1, to repeat his Aintree victory.
Eddie O’Leary, brother of Michael and part of the Gigginstown House Stud team which owns Tiger Roll, said: “He’s an amazing horse. He’s not a good horse, he’s a great horse. He’s just incredible and looks to be a freak of nature. People forget he had stopped racing. He was sick of the game and didn’t want any more of it, then Keith Donoghue took him hunting (in late 2017) and went down the cross-country route and got his mojo back. Now he loves racing, and it’s all down to Keith, Gordon and the team at home.”
Topofthegame Prevails in Thrilling RSA
The Paul Nicholls trained Topofthegame (4/1) produced a performance which oozed class to land the Grade 1 RSA Novices’ Chase and earn himself a quote of 12/1 with Ladbrokes for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Under an ice-cool waiting ride from Harry Cobden, the massive nearly 18 hand son of Flemensfirth jumped superbly and travelled strongly throughout the 3m contest. He crept into contention rounding the home turn and after a superb leap at the last found plenty to see off the persistent challenge of Santini to score by a cost 1/2 length. Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work, the 15/8 favourite, was a 1 3/4 lengths behind in third.
Topofthegame, who is owned by Paul Barber and Chris Giles, runs in the colours of Denman who landed the 2007 RSA Chase before going on to capture the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008.
Discussing Topofthegame’s similarities with the mighty Denman, nicknamed “The Tank”, Ditcheat handler Nicholls said: “He is not unlike Denman. We’re really excited to have him. He is rated pretty much the same as Denman was at this stage of his career. Denman was a grinder and this horse has plenty of boot. He travels well and jumps well – he is only going to get better.
“For Paul Barber and Chris Giles, today was the only day that we trained him for. The next target will be the Gold Cup next year. Like Clan Des Obeaux and those other young horses that we have got, it’s really exciting to have them but Rome wasn’t built in a day and we have to let them develop quietly.”