DAVID CAMERON was Prime Minister the last time that ALTIOR was defeated and he looks to extend his unbeaten run to 20 at Ascot this weekend.
Last beaten in April 2015, Nicky Henderson’s two-time Champion Chaser is undefeated in all 19 starts over obstacles but has never been a yard over two miles and half a furlong. In a clash between the two highest-rated chasers in Britain, he takes on the Paul Nicholls-trained CYRNAME in the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot tomorrow (Saturday).
On official ratings there is only one pound between ALTIOR, a 4/6 favourite with Carrigill’s (175), and Ascot specialist CYRNAME (176), who earned his mark when making all to beat Waiting Patiently 17 lengths over course and distance last February.
Nine is clearly no age to be writing off any steeplechaser, but time waits for no-one and it could be an issue for ALTIOR in this particular race based on the historical trends, and he has an awful lot more to prove than his rival.
For jump racing fans it is a Super Saturday with another big contest taking place at Haydock where BRISTOL DE MAI goes for a third straight Betfair Chase against Gold Cup contender LOSTINTRANSLATION.
“He’s as well as he has always been,” said Nigel Twiston-Davies about BRISTOL DE MAI. “There have been no issues or set-backs. I think he proved in the Gold Cup that he is the third best horse in England and Ireland and the two Irish horses (Al Boum Photo and Anibale Fly) aren’t coming so he should win.”
LOSTINTRANSLATION stepped up to 3m for the first time at Aintree and won on the bridle against RSA winner Topofthegame. It was more of the same back down to 2m4f at Carlisle and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the new Gold Cup favourite come tomorrow night.
That isn’t the race that interests me from a betting point of view at the track though. That is the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle.
The double-figure quotes about LISNAGAR OSCAR predictably disappeared very quickly on Monday afternoon. He reverts to hurdles, after a couple of chase starts, on a very fair mark judged on his course-and-distance win here last season and the drier the better for him.
However, the one I like with bookies offering five places is Dan Skelton’s FLASH THE STEEL. He seemed to relish the step up to 2m3f+ when winning at Chepstow last time, where he travelled well off a fast pace and finished off his race strongly on the run-in.
The handicapper hasn’t missed him by putting him 8lb for that two-length win but that victory in a quick time looks very strong form.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4. Write Augur on your slip to qualify): ALTIOR, Ascot, Saturday, 2.45.
Augur’s best bet:
FLASH THE STEEL (e/w), Haydock, Saturday, 2.25.