Awesome Altior shows his class in Game Spirit Chase

Altior: passed his toughest test over fences with flying colours

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Awesome Altior shows his class in Game Spirit By Andrew Dietz 3:05PM 11 FEB 2017

Report: Newbury, Saturday

Betfair Exchange Chase (Grade 2) (Registered As The Game Spirit Chase) 2m92y, 5yo+

ALTIOR will head to the Racing Post Arkle with an unblemished record over fences after passing his toughest test with flying colours.

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In running out a wide-margin winner, last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle hero evoked memories of Sprinter Sacre, who took this race en route to Arkle glory for Nicky Henderson in 2012.

Out of novice company for the first time and with Fox Norton, Dodging Bullets and Traffic Fluide offering stern opposition, Altior had to step up on his first three chase victories and he did not let down the punters, who backed him into 30-100 favouritism, with a totally dominant performance under Nico de Boinville.

Henderson cut a relieved figure after the race as his decision to allow the Patricia Pugh-owned star to take his chance on testing ground was vindicated with a 13-length defeat of Fox Norton.

Altior was cut to 1-3 (from 2-5) for the Racing Post Arkle by Paddy Power.

Henderson told ITV Racing: "That was great. I was very nervous about the ground. We tried to keep him out of it like we tried to protect Sprinter Sacre in those days."

The trainer will resist the temptation to run in the Betway Champion Chase, preferring to stick to the novice route.

"We'll try to win the Arkle first," he added. "He's been on exactly the same route. It's the way we came in with Sprinter as a novice.

"The thing we all miss this year is Sprinter not being able to have a game with Douvan. If everything goes right and we're all here in a year's time, maybe Altior and Douvan can meet then. It would be great."

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