Altior heads 2019 King George Chase betting market


Altior is arguably the best two-mile chaser we have ever seen, although it appears that the nine-year-old will now be sent over a longer distance, having landed consecutive Queen Mother Champion Chase titles in 2018 and 2019.

The Nicky Henderson-trained charge has won his previous eighteen races including four consecutive triumphs at the Cheltenham Festival, with Altior announcing himself in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016 before going on to claim an Arkle success in 2017.

Queen Mother wins in 2018 and 2019 were achieved the hard way, with Nico de Boinville having to get to work on his ride, although it now appears that the jockey will be riding Altior in the King George Chase next December.

Altior is currently the market leader for the Boxing Day race at Kempton, with bet365 going 4/1 that we see the horse in the winners’ enclosure over the Christmas period and a victory would then see the horse continue towards the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2020.

It remains to be seen whether Altior will be as effective over three miles as he’s proved to be over two miles, although William Hill make him a 3/1 chance and the fact that he finishes his two mile races strongly would suggest we will see some bright performances.

There is clearly a world of difference between the King George on a relatively flat track at Kempton compared to the longer and more undulating trip at the Cheltenham Festival, with Altior trading as big as 20/1 for the Gold Cup and it’s plausible that he might stay at the two mile trip for the Cheltenham Festival next March.

It’s a view held by the layers who go 3/1 about the nine-year-old gelding claiming a consecutive hat-trick of titles at Prestbury Park, with a below-par Arkle in 2019 suggesting that this option remains extremely viable compared to the more competitive Gold Cup landscape at this moment in time.

Altior was due to run at Aintree in the JLT-sponsored Melling Chase which would have been over two miles and four furlongs, although the trainer decided that the race could come too hard on the heels of Cheltenham.

The popular horse will now run at Sandown in May where he’ll be sent off as a short price favourite to win the Celebration Chase, with the charge having benefitted from additional recovery time.

Explaining the decision, Henderson said in his Unibet blog on Friday: "Altior is absolutely fine and there is nothing to worry about, but Nico [de Boinville] had a couple of sits on him this week and jumped four fences yesterday, and I was very hopeful he'd be up to running in the Melling Chase.

"To the eye he looks awesome but Nico just believes he's still feeling the effects of Cheltenham. It's a very similar scenario to last year, and we have only three weeks this time, but the horse tells us where he is and at the moment he's telling us we need to sit this one out and go to Sandown for the Celebration Chase."