The final day of the British jumps season is here and most things are decided, but for one horse history beckons!
Paul Nicholls is back on top as champion trainer, dislodging Nicky Henderson, while Richard Johnson continues to dominate the post-McCoy era as champion rider.
So today is all about Altior, the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero and unbeaten star of jump racing.
He equalled the 18 straight wins of Big Buck’s last month in the Cheltenham, and a second career win in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown will see him stand along on 19 consecutive wins over obstacles! Surely nothing stops him here?
Away from Altior, here’s our best bets from Sandown and one from Doncaster.
The bet365 Novices’ Championship Final Handicap Hurdle can go the way of the Nicholls team with Getaway Trump, three-times a winner this season already and a progressive sort.
Since his debut effort, his only setback have come in graded contests, with form behind the likes of Champ and a fourth in the Betfair Hurdle standing out.
He’s just 5lb higher than that Newbury run now and made mince-meat of an Ayr novice this month to warm up for this event. He can give weight and a beating to these rivals.
Back to seek a second win in the bet365 Gold Cup is the Neil Mulholland-trained 2016 scorer The Young Master, now rated 5lb lower.
He’s enjoyed an excellent campaign, with wins at Chepstow and Cheltenham, before he was pulled up on unsuitable soft going in the Ladbrokes Trophy (Hennessey) at Newbury. Last month he ran a pleasing race to be third behind Any Second Now in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.
The forecast quick ground is to his liking here and with regular rider Sam Waley-Cohen on board, The Young Master can launch a strong bid to emulate Ad Hoc as the only dual winner of this prestigious race since the turn of the century.
Things didn’t pan out for Black Op as a chaser this season but he can get back on track in this Grade 2 Select Hurdle.
He ran well in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January and a poor show in the Stayers’ last month at the Festival can be overlooked. He has plenty of stamina but this 2m5f trip and a stiff finish really should be tailor-made, based on last year’s Aintree Grade One-winning showing.
Chris Fairhurst’s charge is well worth a look in this Fillies’ Handicap over 7f at Doncaster.
Three of her four career wins have come on the Town Moor turf and she’s now 3lb below her C&D winning mark last summer. She scored on her second start of last season and, with a Thirsk run under her belt, is eased in Class for this seven-runner heat.
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