2016 Cheltenham Festival ante post plays: Altior in Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
David Metcalf | January 25, 2016
Min has been dubbed the latest Willie Mullins trained “machine” and heads the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but Altior has done nothing but impress this season and looks decent value at 6/1 with Coral to win the 2m contest which gets proceedings underway at the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, March 15th.
The Nicky Henderson trained gelding looked a very smart prospect when running out an impressive winner on his debut in a bumper at Market Rasen, travelling on the bridle throughout and showing a smart turn of foot to quicken clear and win by 14 lengths without coming out of second gear.
Altior then ran very well to finish third to the highly-regarded and unbeaten Barters Hill at Newbury, before finishing a highly creditable sixth of 13 to Bellshill in a Grade 1 bumper at Punchestown.
Henderson hope unbeaten over hurdles
However, the six-year-old was always going to come into his own once sent hurdling and is unbeaten in four starts over the obstacles this season.
After sauntering to a facile 34 lengths success on reappearance at Chepstow, Altior put in a most taking performance when cosily beating Ch’Tibello by 1 3/4 lengths at Ascot.
The runner-up is a useful sort which has since gone on to finish third in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury, and the pair pulled 20 lengths clear of the third home to give the form a strong look.
Altior then showed good battling qualities to beat Maputo by 1/2 a length in a messily-run Grade 2 contest at Cheltenham, before romping to a 13 length success over Open Eagle at Kempton when last seen in action.
The manner in which Altior quickened and put the race to bed in the latter marked him out as potentially something very special.
Form supports punt on Altior
Open Eagle had previously beaten Double Island by 2 1/4 lengths at Fairyhouse, and the runner-up finished a 21 length third to Min when last seen in action.
That line of form suggests there is not much between Altior and Min, and I firmly believe that there is plenty more improvement left in the locker of the former.
Altior has shown that he has a high cruising speed and potent turn of foot, but his victory at Cheltenham also showed that he had guts.
Previous Supreme success spurring Henderson on
To get a combination of all three is a rare thing, and Altior hails from a stable who know what it is required to win the Supreme.
Henderson has won the Grade 1 contest twice, courtesy of River Ceiriog (1986) and Flown (1992), and has had a number of horses run well to make the frame in recent renewals.
At the current odds on offer, Altior looks good value to give the Seven Barrows handler a third success.
Coral’s ante post play: Altior at 6/1 to win the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.