In March, 2019, Altior won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival for the second year running, justifying 4/11 favouritism in workmanlike, rather than spectacular, fashion. In so doing, the nine-year-old equalled the world record for the consecutive number of wins over obstacles, 18, held by four-time Stayers’ Hurdle winner, Big Buck’s. However, just over a month later, Altior contested the Celebration Chase at Sandown – a race he had won for the previous two seasons – and, although once again less-than-imperious, won unchallenged, by 2½ lengths, to beat the aforementioned world record.
Owned by Patricia Pugh and trained by Nicky Henderson, Altior has the distinction of being the highest-rated steeplechaser in training, according to Timeform, with a rating of 180p – the ‘p’ indicating that he is likely to improve still further – and probably rightly so, after an unbeaten run stretching back four complete National Hunt seasons to October, 2015. In fact, Altior his unbeaten over obstacles, large or small, the two defeats in his 21-race career coming in confusingly-titled National Hunt Flat Races on his second and third starts, early in his five-year-old campaign.
Undefeated in five subsequent starts over hurdles, culminating with a 7-length win over Min and stable companion Buveur D’Air in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016, Altior was sent over fences the following November and made a seamless transition to the larger obstacles. He won all six races, including the Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, and the Celebration Chase for the first time, all at long-odds on. In 2017/18, he returned to the Cheltenham Festival to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase for the first time and did so again in 2018/19, allowing Nicky Henderson to equal the record held by Tom Dreaper, with six wins in the two-mile chasing championship.
The only horse to complete a hat-trick in the Queen Mother Champion Chase was Badsworth Boy in 1983, 1984 and 1985, but Nicky Henderson has indicated that the King George VI Chase, over 3 miles, at Kempton may well be on the agenda for Altior in 2019/20, so it remains to be seen what the future holds for the record-breaking ‘chaser.