Farewell to Altior

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A flick back through the longest winning sequences of some of National Hunt racing’s greatest performers helps put Altior’s record-breaking exploits into perspective.

Best Mate and Cue Card have been among the most popular horses this century, yet neither ever won more than four races in succession. Five-time King George VI Chase winner and dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kauto Star surprisingly never managed more than six victories on the spin, while Desert Orchid and Moscow Flyer stalled at seven.

The legendary Arkle, the greatest of them all? He would often try to concede lumps of weight in handicaps and, as a consequence, never got beyond nine. Denman, Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Un De Sceaux managed the same.

Annie Power, Faugheen, Istabraq and Sprinter Sacre all got to ten; and then we get to the most prolific of them all in Buveur D’Air (11), Bula (13), Douvan (14), Sir Ken (16) and Big Buck’s (18).


But the ultimate winter win machine was Altior, who won a record 19 consecutive victories and effectively allowed his adoring supporters to print their own money during a glorious four-year period where he was invincible. Had you bet £20 on him for win No 1 of the 19, then played up the winnings every time he subsequently ran, you’d have got up to a profit of almost £84,000!!!

He wasn’t asked to tackle handicaps and on many occasions few dared take him on, but four of those 19 wins were achieved in the cauldron of the Cheltenham Festival. And let’s not forget he also spent most of his career running in two-mile chases, where there is no room for hesitation or error.

The 11-year-old, whose retirement was announced on Monday afternoon, has set the bar almost impossibly high for those seeking to upstage him.

To get past Altior, at least 40 miles will have to be galloped and a minimum of about 160 obstacles negotiated. Then, there is the opposition, plus the banana skins that lurk around every corner over jumps and, of course, just plain rotten bad luck. Off days? There is no scope for those, either.


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Yes the 1970 and 80s heralded a golden Era for Cheltenham and millions of us flocked to see our heroes race...........and what a great joy to have had so many over the years .  

I was there when Dessie won the Gold cup in 89 ..... and returned in the 90s twice to see huge bets turned over and carnage in the betting ring on many occasions .  I have fond memories of cheltenham and would love to go again.... however the traffic and congestion have put me off in the last 15 years.  

Wouldn't it be nice to have a TGC meet there at some point and share the day together ... 

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