Cheltenham Festival: Altior crowned ‘best of the best’ after Champion Chase conquest

Jockey Nico de Boinville has praised an ‘exceptional’ Altior, after he landed his third Cheltenham Festival success in Wednesday’s feature race, the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

De Boinville was forced to work hard aboard former Supreme and Arkle winner, and as they turned for home market rival Min appeared to be travelling much stronger.

Cheered on by a packed out Ladies’ Day crowd, a determined effort saw Altior take control of the race over the final flight, running on to secure an impressive seven length success.

“I was in serious trouble the whole way round, it’s not his ground at all,” said the former Gold Cup winning jockey.

“His jumping just kept him in the race. He’s some horse.

“He’s had a hard race there. He’s some horse to get me out of trouble.”

“He’s exceptional, he’s the best of the best. That was just sensational. Boy, am I lucky to ride him. Everyone loves an Irish banker, but how about an English one?”

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Altior gave Nicky Henderson his fifth Champion Chase victory, two years on from the heroic performance by Sprinter Sacre

He justified odds of Evens to strike against second place Min, Gloucestershire-trained God’s Own finished third in the Grade One event.

His victory means that Henderson, who saddled Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air yesterday, could become the first trainer to ever win the ‘big three’ at the Festival, providing Might Bite can justify favouritism in Friday’s Gold Cup.

Douvan was travelling well until falling four from home, and Willie Mullins’ may take the star to the Punchestown Festival next.

Elsewhere leading rider Ruby Walsh was forced to stand down after a fall aboard Al Boum Photo in the second race of the day, the RSA Chase.

After only returning to racing six days ago, it is feared that Walsh has broken his leg again and the jockey is currently being x-rayed this evening. He was taken away in a hospital after his fall at the penultimate fence.

Presenting Percy won the RSA in excellent style for Patrick Kelly, he has subsequently been made favourite for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup following his seven length success.

Six of the seven winners on the day were trained in Ireland, with Gordon Elliott enjoying a hat-trick across the card.

The highly-regarded Samcro rewarded punters who followed the week’s ‘Irish banker’, with the six-year-old stretching his unbeaten record to seven races. He beat Tom George’s Black Op by just under three lengths.

Elliott’s Tiger Roll recorded a third Cheltenham Festival victory in the Cross Country, whilst Veneer Of Charm ran out a shock 33-1 winner of the Fred Winter.

The Coral Cup was won by Willie Mullins’ 20-1 shot Bleu Berry, who saw off Topofthegame by a neck in a thrilling finish to the prestigious handicap.

The master of Closutton also enjoyed a superb result in the Champion Bumper, saddling four of the first five home.

Katie Walsh steered Relegate home ahead of stable companions Carefully Selected and Tornado Flyer.

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