Altior Vs Cyrname

Altior (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

By Samantha

Altior Vs Cyrname.

Nicky Henderson Vs Paul Nicholls.

Nico De Boinville Vs Harry Cobden.

Cast your mind back to the 16th of February. Cyrname jumped like a stag and finished clear of a good field of rivals in the Grade One Ascot Chase. That’s when the talk began of a possible clash between the Mrs Johnny De La Hey-owned gelding Cyrname and Altior. Altior has been one of the most consistent horses in training during the last ten years, maybe longer, with an unbeaten streak lasting from October 2015.

Now the clash is on.

The bookmakers have Altior in as 4/6 favourite with Cyrname at 6/5, less than a point between them. There is just one runner apposing them – Dan Skelton’s Solomon Grey.

To begin, let’s focus on Altior. He has been trained by Nicky Henderson throughout his career and will be ridden by Nico De Boinville, who rose through the ranks at Henderson’s yard and now is the stable jockey for the yard. Altior was Patricia Pugh’s first dabble into racehorse ownership and what a successful one it has been! Altior has ran twenty two times and won the last Nineteen of them, starting in 2015. On the two starts that he was beaten, he was third to Barters Hill and Buveur D’Air in a listed bumper and then sixth in the grade one bumper at Punchestown.

He’s been a firm favourite in the racing sphere since his victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, beating Min and Buveur D’Air. That was his sixth career victory and, by then, he looked special. After that, he went novice chasing in the 2016/17 season. He won all six of his runs that year, including two grade twos, two grade ones and the Arkle. We didn’t see him then until February 2018 when he won the Game Spirit, his first Champion Chase and the Celebration Chase. Last season, he won the Tingle Creek, Desert Orchid, Clarence House at Ascot, a second Champion Chase and a second Celebration Chase.

Altior is putting his unbeaten record on the line. (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

This is a new test though – Altior has never ran over any further than two miles two and this grade two contest is over two miles five furlongs. The race the connections appear to be targeting is the King George on Boxing Day. That race is over three miles so they must think Altior will stay this trip. However, in contradiction to this, Nicky Henderson has been reported, possibly with tongue in cheek, that he believes Altior has enough speed for the Kings Stand, which is over five furlongs. I can understand why they’d want to try a further trip with him. On his last two starts, the runners up threatened to take the lead but he battled on gamely and found a great deal under pressure. It may be a case of, as he gets older, he just wants a bit further and I think it is a bit of a fact finding mission to plot out the rest of the year.

Despite four Cheltenham Festival wins (2016 Supreme, 2017 Arkle Novices’ Chase and the Queen Mother in 2018 and 2019), Altior is not the most highest rated chaser. That crown sits on the head of Cyrname at Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls’ yard. Nicholls won it last year with Politologue; in 2013 and 2014 with Al Ferof; in 2010 and 2011 with Master Minded and in 2006 with Cerium. Harry Cobden has fairly recently become the stable jockey and he tasted King George Chase victory last year with Clan Des Obeaux. The De La Heys will be hoping that there won’t be a repeat of one of their other horses Diego Du Charmil’s antics at the last fence at Ascot a few weeks ago. He decided to jump the highest possible point of the fence and drove out his stable companion Capeland. Cyrname’s rise to highest rated chaser was fairly spontaneous.

Cyrname (Copyright JTW Equine Images)

He was a winner in France for Patrice Quinton and then moved to the Paul Nicholls Team. He was fifth, sixth and seventh on his first three starts then won over fences. He followed in Bigmatre then won the grade two Wayward Lad in December 2017. He was second in the Scilly Isles then won another grade two around Kempton. He came fourth in a grade one at Aintree but it was last season that made him such a hype-horse. He started the season averagely, coming third and then seventh at Ascot. In January, he won by twenty one lengths, with subsequent BetVictor winner Happy Diva in behind. He was then stepped up to the top company for the grade one Ascot Chase and defeated Waiting Patiently, Fox Norton, Politologue, Charbel and Aso by a huge seventeen lengths. That earned him a rating of 176, 1lbs higher than Altior.

Both of those latter victories were over course and distance but there is the possibility that Cyrname is actually a bit overhyped. He doesn’t have as successful a win rate as Altior and, as we all know, official ratings don’t tell the full story all the time. Last time was the best run of his life and that has been the sole run where he has appeared dominant in this grade.

Not often do we have a complete two-horse-race but I think, in this case, the top two are the ones that have the chance of winning. Solomon Grey completes the trio. He won two chases in May and then came fourth of five round Wincanton in the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase (Grade Two), behind Reserve Tank, If You Say Run and Commache Red. He made a bold bid, leading for some of the way, and his jumping is good so he’s pretty much guaranteed the third place prize of £7490.

So Altior or Cyrname?

This is the question that has been plaguing social media and the racing community all week.

I’m going to stick with ALTIOR. He’s been the most incredible, consistent horse and I think now is the best time of any to step him up in trip and see whether he can boost himself into National Hunt Racing immortality by winning over a variety of trips at the top level. The form is on the table – he’s beaten Buveur D’Air, Min, Douvan, Special Tiara and so many other good horses. No disrespect to Cyrname. He’s a lovely, big chaser and will be winning soon. He’s never won on seasonal reappearance and came good in the second half of the season last year. Over the summer, he had a wind op to aid his breathing. He’s likely to pop out in front and make it a proper test so we’ll get to see how much stamina Altior actually has. I believe Nicky Henderson knows exactly what Altior is capable of and he wouldn’t put him in a race that he couldn’t win and risk sacrificing his unbeaten record.

It’s definitely not a race to bet on; it’s one to savour. My only wish is that they all come home safe.

Rest Of The Team’s Selections

Killian – Cyrname
Lois – Altior
Luke – Cyrname

One thought on “Altior Vs Cyrname”

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