SANDOWN features the bet365 Celebration Chase on Saturday with super horse Altior set for a record-breaking 19th straight win attempt over the jumps.
Altior is set to go head to head with Cyrname, in what will be a highest rated horses in Britain and Ireland showdown, in the 12 race entry for the bet365 Celebration Chase.
Altior, trained by Nicky Henderson, two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, missed Aintree this month.
Speaking ahead of Sandown’s Grade 1, Henderson said: “Altior didn’t quite bounce back from Cheltenham – he felt a little bit flat before Aintree. But he has shown he is recovered and ready.”
Altior equalled the record for most consecutive wins over jumps, when joining legendary staying hurdler Big Buck’s, upon registering his 18th straight success in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Despite Altior’s record 18 unbeaten races, cautionary Henderson said: “They have got to get beaten some time – we will see. Cyrname is a very good horse. But Altior has shown he is back in very good form.”
Following the heatwave last week Sandown put down 10mm of water around the track, with the course watering 100mm in total, in the wake of a mere 12mm of rainfall since Cheltenham in mid-March.
RICHARD Johnson will be crowned the 2018-19 Stobart Champion jump jockey at Sandown – for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s an amazing feeling. To do it for four years in a row is something I am immensely proud of,” said Johnson.
“It’s a long hard season, with some fantastic battles against so many talented jockeys – it’s brilliant to come out on top,” said Johnson, who has rode approaching 200 winners.
Johnson’s highlights of the campaign include the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, with La Bague Au Roi at Kempton on Boxing Day; along with riding five winners at Perth, in August 2018 and repeating a five horse winning tally September 2018.
Johnson also rode three hat-tricks in succession at Exeter, Fontwell and Ludlow in October.
Johnson’s jockey-trainer partnership with Phillip Hobbs returned 52 wins, earning over £2 million in prize money: “The cherry on the cake would be to hit the 200 mark on Saturday,” said Johnson.
“That would be an unbelievable moment – and the perfect ending – to what has been another tremendous season,” said Johnson.
*Andrew Atkinson’s Saturday racing tips will be Online on Friday at: www.theleader.info