Racing Post Arkle favourite Altior could step out of novice company after receiving an entry for the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 21st January 2017.
The Nicky Henderson star scored at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016 when he stormed to a seven-length victory in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
The seven-year-old has a made a perfect start to life over fences this season with three exceptional performances including victory in the Grade 1 Racing Post Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
These performances have prompted bookmakers to cut Altior into even-money for the Arkle on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival 2017 – but like Thistlecrack over Christmas Altior could step out of novice company into open company for ahead of Cheltenham.
Un De Sceaux who was an impressive winner of the Clarence House 12-months ago made a brilliant return to action when taking the Tingle Creek at Sandown, and the Willie Mullins star is set to defend his crown at the Berkshire track in two-week’s time.
Another challenger from across the Irish Sea could be Desert Orchid winner Special Tiara for the Henry De Bromhead stable – in what would be the 10-year-old’s first run at Ascot.
Dodging Bullets claimed the Clarence House on his way to victory in the Champion Chase at The Festival in 2016 and he could drop back to two-miles for Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls, after running over two-and-a-half-miles this season.
Gary Moore could be double-handed in one of the season’s premier events with former winner Sire De Grugy and Ar Mad both entered.
The pair contested the Tingle Creek, with Ar Mad in particular is expected to come on for his run in that race and pose a serious threat to the market leaders.
But if he lines-up all eyes will definitely be on Altior, who could follow in the footsteps of Thistlecrack and Coneygree by landing a major Grade 1 prize as a novice.
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