Is Altior’s Dominant Era Over? Racegoers are probably already hyped for the new year, waiting for May, when the Kentucky Derby happens. Yet, they were treated with an early-season glimpse at two of the very finest racehorses in the country on Saturday afternoon when Altior and Cyrname went head to head at Ascot.

The favourite was undoubtedly Altior, who went into the race having won his last 19 over the jumps. That record has stemmed back nearly five years, so the Nicky Henderson trained horse would have been forgiven for forgetting what defeat feels like. However, that was something that it would need to endure following an instant classic down south on the weekend.

The battle between Cyrname and Altior was one that punters have been waiting for, and any chance that we got close to seeing it last year, the weather would puncture any dreams. The wait was finally over on Saturday however, and there could be a lasting impression on the ante-post betting for the Cheltenham festival following a shock win.

Cyrname Topples Altior

As we mentioned, it has been nearly five years since Altior last lost, but this would be his first loss chasing. Nicky De Boinville onboard had little answer for the vibrant and younger horse challenging the great champion. As soon as Cyrname went ahead, everybody in attendance knew they were seeing something huge.

It could be a clear sign of the times ahead for Altior as he failed to reel in Cyrname on his very first run over the distance in the Christy 1965 Chase. Connections were quick to play down the loss and stated that the conditions and fitness of the festival champion were to blame for the defeat.

However, Henderson revealed in his blog with Unibet that the horse was fine despite the conditions and defeat. He wrote: “I am pleased to report that Altior is absolutely fine this morning after his gallant run in the defeat at Ascot yesterday and has eaten everything put out in front of him; he also trotted up completely sound which is the main thing following the testing run.”

Future Plans

The immediate future isn’t likely to change for Altior. He will still head the betting for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and the path for that very race looks to follow the same pattern that has been set by Henderson over the last couple of years.

Henderson continued: “I’d say Kempton is the most likely next stop if he’s fit and well but it all depends on how long it takes to get over this; if it’s two months, then that’s how long it will take. He puts a lot into his races, literally his heart and soul, which is why he’s so good, so he’ll be given as much time as is required.”

The festive meeting is where Altior has stepped up his performances ahead of Cheltenham in two of the last three years. Last year he held off Diego Du Charmil to win by 19 lengths, but there is a feeling that he isn’t as durable as he was 12 months ago.

That win at Kempton was the best performance by the Henderson trained horse in 2018, with Altior only squeaking out wins at Cheltenham and Sandown to end the season. Cyrname is a different calibre of horse to what Altior has been used to over recent years, and his heart and desire will be tested for the remainder of this jump season.

It is still unknown whether the two super horses will be going head to head at the Cheltenham Festival, who happens one month after the NFL SuperBowl wagers, as Cyrname could instead opt to compete in the Gold Cup. However, racing fans, will be hoping that this isn’t the only time that we will see them going toe to toe.

Sandown Racecourse Sandown racecourse is a horse racing venue located in Esher, Surrey. The racetrack was opened way back in 1875, and is owned and operated by Jockey Club Racecourses. It hosts both flat and National Hunt races, making it one of the few races in England that hosts both races. Unlike most racecourses that evolved from being venues of other sports or activities, Sandown was built purposely for horse-racing. It is said to have been the Queen Mother’s favorite horse racing venue. Sandown is not only a horse racing venue, but also a venue for social functions like exhibitions, conferences, weddings and seminars. This is because of its state of the art facilities which are flexible, and can accommodate all sorts of events.

Racing at the current Sandown racecourse venue began in 1935. Later in 1952, its activities were cut short by the outbreak of the World War. It was among the first racecourses to charge people for attending the races. The first race meeting to take place there lasted for over three days, starting from the 22nd of April. Its original track was covered with neatly cut grass, but was later changed into a sand track in 1964, due to maintenance difficulties. Computerized
Tote equipment was introduced in 1974, facilitating betting in the racecourse.

The most notable races run at Sandown are the Tolworth Hurdle and the Gainsborough chase. The Tolworth is a National Hunt race, strictly meant for horses aged four years and above. During the race, horses cover a total distance of 3,125 meters. The race is sponsored by 32Red, and takes place every January. The Gainsborough was
first run in 1954. Unlike the Tolworth, horses aged five years and above take part in the race. It takes place every late January or early February. The racecourse has a wide range of hospitality options facilitating a comfortable
race day for the racegoers.


Short-priced Favourites Many horse racing punters who consistently back heavily favoured, often odds-on, favourites do so in the belief that they are ‘on’ a horse with an obvious competitive advantage. This is not, necessarily, true. Fairly obviously, the shorter the odds the higher the strike rate, but the fact remains that, across the whole spectrum of horse racing, roughly one-third of favourites win. Therefore, two-thirds of favourites must, by definition, be ‘false’ favourites. Indeed, according to one study, backing every favourite that was sent off at odds between even money and 1/5 over the last 25 years or so would have resulted in a loss of just over 5% at starting price.

That is not to say that backing a short-priced, even odds-on, favourite is altogether a bad idea. Many such bets can even be combined with the various bookmaker horse racing offers out there. If a horse can be backed at odds which, in the eyes of the punter, are longer than the odds representing its true chance of winning, it could still embody value, regardless of the actual odds on offer. However, a typical ‘chalk eater’ – bookmaker parlance for a punter who bets, almost exclusively, at short odds – is often tempted to invest heavily on a selection, regardless of its winning prospects and/or regardless of whether or not the odds on offer represent ‘value’.

This latter approach is fraught with danger at almost every turn. The habitual short-odds punter must, even when winning, significantly beat the starting price in order to make just a very small profit. Similarly, the punter can expect a high strike-rate, consummate with prohibitive odds, but even a short losing run can be hugely costly, possibly wiping out a betting bank altogether or, at least, increasing the likelihood of chasing losses. No staking plan, however ‘foolproof’, can compensate for an adverse sequence of results and, consequently, punters have a little or no chance of making money by backing short-priced favourites in the long term. By contrast, the occasional, modest bet, on a short-priced favourite with excellent winning prospects – especially if the horse in question appears over-priced – is an attractive proposition, but consistently backing such horses willy-nilly is a route to the poorhouse.