Kim Bailey: Race of the season lives up to hype *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    I hate to bore you, but Altior was imperious when winning this year’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park. The 2018 contest was billed as the “race of the season” and four top-class two-mile chasers battled it out. It certainly lived up to the hype and was a wonderful race. One horse had to win and Altior was that horse — at the expense of Ireland’s Un De Sceaux.

    Nico de Boinville, who understands Altior so well, must have wondered what he was riding when the winner took off at the second fence, so far away that they almost landed on it. Riding two-mile chasers at speed must be one of the most exhilarating feelings you can have as a jockey, but that leap must have all the same ingredients of a rollercoaster ride at Thorpe Park.

    Altior is a truly great racehorse, who has been prepared to perfection by Nicky Henderson and equally well ridden by Nico.

    What an extraordinarily lucky person Patricia Pugh is to own such a superstar. Racing fans now feel they own him too and have become hugely attached to this wonder horse.

    The highs and lows

    There are few better racecourses than Sandown Park for watching racing; you jump the Railway Fences with them. We all enjoy being a “stand jockey” and here you can see every fence.

    Up at Aintree, the racing takes place so far away that you are almost forced to watch on TV — especially when the Grand National fences are involved, a spectacle that is unique to both British racing and Aintree.

    Saturday’s Becher Chase winner, Walk In The Mill, showed a clean pair of heels to his rivals. Sadly, some of the more fancied horses played no part in the race, which makes you wonder about the form line.

    The Betway Many Clouds Chase was, I’m afraid, a disappointing race as the 2017 Grand National winner, One For Arthur, departed all too early.

    Meanwhile, racehorse owners David and Julie Martin had a weekend to savour when their, and Dan Hall’s, novice hurdler, the Nicky Henderson-trained I Can’t Explain, won at Sandown. He looks exciting.

    Then their treasured Charbel won at Huntingdon for us in the Tattersalls Ireland Edredon Bleu Chase in emphatic style. It was Charbel’s first Graded win and one that he so deserved. You know how much I love this horse, so this result was special. Noel Fehily stepped in for David Bass, who had a nasty fall the day before. It was sad for David as he has put so much work into this lovely chaser, but there are not many better deputies than Noel Fehily.

    To easy to abuse

    Racing is a funny old world and social media plays a big part in our lives as trainers. Some trainers embrace it, some don’t bother. Personally, I do and have had a website since 1996. But Twitter is something different — it is instant and can be good to read and promote, but on the other hand it can be poisonous.

    Today’s keyboard warriors are quick to criticise when their pocket complains if a horse is beaten, especially when they feel it should not have lost, and jockeys suffer almost more than trainers. Phone numbers are quick to find and it’s all too easy to ring and abuse, withholding numbers — it is easy to be brave behind a mask.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 13 December 2018