Altior makes most of Charbel fall to win Arkle at Cheltenham Festival

Nico de Boinville, ridng Altior, wins The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Steeple Chase at Cheltenham Festival
Image: Altior jumps the last fence ahead of Cloudy Dream on his way to Arkle glory

Altior landed the odds in the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival but not without one or two scares.

The 1-4 favourite, trained by Nicky Henderson, stormed clear of Cloudy Dream (12/1) to land the Grade 1 novice, but how different things might have been had Charbel made it round safely.

Kim Bailey's front-runner was still at the head of affairs as the field turned for home, but he got too close to the second last fence and gave David Bass no chance of staying in the saddle.

As he came down Altior, who had come under pressure from jockey Nico de Boinville a little earlier, hit the front and from that point was not seriously troubled.

Cloudy Dream, who had travelled strongly until the run to the second last, kept on for a six-length second with 25/1 shot Ordinary World filling third spot.

Henderson said: "They went a good gallop and Charbel was still galloping away, but we jumped and travelled well.

Altior ridden by Nico de Boinville
Image: Altior has won his last 10 races over hurdles and fences

"We knew he'd come up the hill. He's very, very good and there's a lot to look forward to. We've gone down the chase route and we'll have to stick to that now."

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On immediate plans, he added: "It's not the sort of thing we need to jump to straight after the race, but there's no reason why you shouldn't run again, Sandown would be the obvious way of going but he won't go to Aintree. If he's going to run again, I would have thought Sandown.

"That was the one that had to win. It takes an awful lot of pressure off us. I feel sorry for Kim's (Bailey) horse (Charbel). I hope he's OK because he's run a great race. They were only upsides at the time.

"He's done it well and jumped very well from what I could see. On we go. This is only first season over fences. Hopefully Douvan will do his job (in the Champion Chase) and then maybe we will all meet up again next year.

"Altior has done nothing wrong and jumped really well."

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 14: Nico de Boinville ridng Altior (L) on their way to winning The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices Steeple Chase at
Image: Charbel (R) led the field a merry dance for much of the Arkle but fell two out when still in front of winner Altior (L)

Bass said of Charbel's fall: "I'm fine. It was a very tricky fence and it claims quite a few of us. He didn't jump it badly, he just knuckled on landing."

Bailey added: "David hadn't even asked him a question. That's life. He jumped the fence fine and just knuckled over, but he's fine. It's a difficult fence."

Cloudy Dream's trainer Malcolm Jefferson added: "I didn't expect any better than that so I've got to be delighted. I thought he ran a blinder against a very good horse.

"We knew there'd be pace on and there was but I left all the plans up to Brian (Hughes), he knew what to do. Next year we'll up him in trip but he's got plenty of pace so I've been happy to run him over two miles for now.

"There's a nice race at Ayr for him but I'd imagine he'll go to Liverpool as Trevor (Hemmings, owners) loves his runners there. There's the two-and-a-half-mile race (Manifesto Novices' Chase) there."

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