Ed Chamberlin refects on the Saturday action from Ascot and Haydock where Altior and Wakanda were the star turns.
The headline act on Saturday was Altior at Ascot but I think the headline maker should be the wonderful Wakanda.
Fifty one weeks ago he came out on top in a thrilling finish to the Sky Bet Chase and landed another big pot with a typically gutsy display in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
What a horse he has been for connections, a real warrior, and is as tough as they come. In hindsight we should have taken note of Sue Smith’s decision to run here rather than go back to defend the Doncaster crown next week.
His owner Mrs Scholey had already claimed this prize with Truckers Tavern many years ago and was celebrating again. And what a season the man on board, Danny Cook, is enjoying.
I was lucky enough to walk the track with him at Doncaster in the week and bar being a West Ham fan he’s a great lad - and a really good jockey.
What a boost this win is for him ahead of Midnight Shadow’s run in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham next weekend, live on ITV.
Earlier on the card Mister Fisher won the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle and got a 10/1 quote from the sponsors for the Supreme itself.
I’d be surprised if he was up to winning the opening racing of the Cheltenham Festival though and sense he’s not quite at the top of Nicky Henderson’s pecking order for the race.
The one I like for the Supreme is Vision D'Honneur, who won the sportinglife.com Maiden Hurdle in such taking fashion at Punchestown last weekend. He heads to the Dublin Racing Festival next and I think he’ll underline his Cheltenham claims there.
I was thrilled for Ben Pauling when Global Citizen won the first running of the Unibet New One Hurdle. He’s endured such rotten luck, sadly losing Willoughby Court and being forced to retire Barter’s Hill. This change of fortune was richly deserved.
Predictably the race had little impact on the Unibet Champion Hurdle market but when Global Citizen is at his best, he’s pretty useful.
Silver Streak backers will feel a little unlucky after his bad mistake three out but how healthy it was to hear Evan Williams say afterwards on ITV that there were no excuses and the best horse won.
We were down at Ascot where conditions were absolutely miserable but no-one was complaining as the rain is so badly needed.
I’m on a mission at the moment to get more youngsters involved in every aspect of horse racing, whether they be aspiring journalists, broadcasters or racegoers. They need all the encouragement they can get and over the next few weeks on ITV we’ll be keeping a close eye on what the courses are doing to attract families.
I don’t think the majority of people watching at home realise that accompanied under-18s gain free admission to all tracks – they certainly can’t do that at football, for example. Racing should be a fabulous day out for the family – and generally is.
The turnout for the Matchbook Clarence House Chase was dismal – that’s the downside of having a superstar in the division. Switching it back to a handicap would have its advantages but would we have seen the champion asked to concede weight all round here by connections?
The upside of his status though is that I met youngsters from all over the country who came to Ascot for one reason – to see him.
The race was a non-event but those people can go home and in 20 years time they’ll be able to tell everyone “I saw the great Altior in the flesh”.
The performance worried me though. Mick Fitzgerald and Luke Harvey often tell me a horse jumping violently to one side can be feeling something. Nico de Boinville and Nicky Henderson seemed unconcerned by Altior’s drift to the left afterwards though and fingers crossed he’s in A1 condition on Sunday morning. I’m sure he will be.
He now has one of sport’s great unbeaten records in his sights and how perfect it is that – on the greatest stage of all at the Cheltenham Festival – he can equal Big Buck’s modern-day tally of 18 straight jumps wins.
What an achievement it would be in the toughest of games.