Altior cut for Arkle glory, Lough Derg Spirit emerges as Supreme contender
David Metcalf | 6 December 2016
Coral horse racing experts give their latest 2017 Cheltenham Festival ante post tips, including Altior Arkle odds and Lough Derg Spirit bets for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Altior electric on chasing debut at Kempton
Altior is now 2/1 favourite (from 5/2) with Coral for the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, after a making an ultra-impressive winning debut over the larger obstacles in the Weatherbys Supports Starlight Novices’ Chase at Kempton.
The six-year-old, who won all five of his races over hurdles last season including a very strong renewal of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Prestbury Park, looked a natural as he romped to a 63-length success over sole rival Black Corton.
Although Altior faced a simple task on paper and was sent off the 2/13 favourite, it was impossible to pick holes in the manner he went about his business in the hands of Noel Fehily.
After taking up the running at the third, the gelding pulled further and further clear of his toiling rival to win as he liked.
Natural over fences
Altior jumped superbly apart from a slight mistake at the ninth, but never looked like falling and was very athletic while creating a good shape over the fences.
He looked an absolute natural, while Altior’s high cruising speed and slick jumping are the perfect attributes to enable the son of High Chaparral to go right to the top of the chasing tree.
Altior is also an imposing beast, who has swagger and style and looks the real deal.
Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase next on agenda
Speaking after the race, a delighted and relieved trainer Nicky Henderson said: “He had a nice little blow and had a school round and he’ll go to Sandown on Saturday week for the Henry VIII [Novices’ Chase].
“He races with his head low, which is lovely and a great way to go over fences. He’s built like a chaser and I thought he jumped great. There are options, but we might as well go to Sandown.
“Noel sat on him on Friday and he jumped 10 fences and he was electric. He’s been frighteningly good all the way through. That was a good start and I was happy with it.”
The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase is Grade 1 contest which will tell us a lot more about Altior. However, even at this early stage he looks a worthy favourite for the 2017 Arkle.
Handler Henderson has won a joint-record record five times courtesy of Remittance Man (1991), Travado (1993), Tiutchev (2000), Sprinter Sacre (2012), and Simonsig (2013).
If progressing as expected, then Altior looks hugely likely to go off odds-on for the Arkle on Tuesday, March 14th; so take the early ante post price for maximum value.
Impressive Lough Derg Spirit enters Supreme picture
Earlier on the card, Henderson unleashed another exciting prospect in the shape of Lough Derg Spirit.
The four-year-old, who joined his current trainer after winning an Irish point back in May, made virtually all and jumped superbly to easily beat the highly-regarded Coup De Pinceau by 3 1/2 lengths in the 2m Coolmore Stallions EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Lough Derg Spirit showed tremendous speed, given that his point win came over 3m, and jockey Jeremiah McGrath had a mighty job pulling him up after the winning line.
It was a most taking performance which suggested the gelding had a huge future and needed keeping firmly onside.
Given that Lough Derg Spirit is clearly blessed with tactical speed, as well a stamin,a he has plenty of potential options at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival if building on this performance.
Coral have introduced Lough Derg Spirit bets into the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle ante post market at 14/1. That may be the obvious target at this early stage.
At the odds on offer, Lough Derg Spirit looks decent each-way value among 2017 Cheltenham Festival tips in the traditional curtain-raiser on Tuesday, March 14th.
Like the look of these 2017 Cheltenham Festival tips? Let us know if you”re backing Altior Arkle odds or getting behind Lough Derg Spirit bets for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in the comments section below!