Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Altior extended his unbeaten record over fences to nine with victory in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown Park.
Nicky Henderson’s stable star was sent off the 2-11 favourite for the two-mile Grade One and while Nico de Boinville had to give him a slap of the whip after the last, he found plenty up the Sandown hill to win with ease.
San Benedeto, a 33-1 shot, finished second with God’s Own third, as Altior followed up his Cheltenham Festival success.
De Boinville told ITV Racing: “He was pretty workmanlike, I have to say. I think Cheltenham left its mark.
“We have come here, it’s soft ground now, the rain’s got in a bit and I think he found it hard enough work.
“This is the mark of great champions, they can pull it out of the bag when they are up against the ropes.
“All credit to him as he retains his unbeaten record over fences.”
Asked about the possibility of stepping up in trip next term, De Boinville feels it would not be the best decision.
He added: “Against Might Bite? I don’t see the point in stepping up to three miles when you’ve got an outstanding Champion Chaser.”
Henderson said: “It’s been a very difficult season, to be fair. Just to go back, we had to push a bit to get the run in the Game Spirit and that looked good.
“He probably just felt that a bit and there was probably still a bit of Cheltenham on him, I think. He is good enough and because he is so classy he can get away with it.
“In that ground he was just tired and they were going a good gallop. He is just very good. It doesn’t bother him. He is just as good as there is.
“He is not exhausted by a million miles, but he was just being kind to the horse, to be fair. He quickened up again as soon as he said ‘go’.
“I think he is racing in a more relaxed mode this year. What I would have liked to have done is gone to Aintree and tried him over two and a half (miles). He really wasn’t back in time for that and you can see why he has only got back in time for this.
“He can go and have a good summer. It’s been a rush of a season to get him anywhere.
“Where do you go, that is the problem. He is sure to start in the Tingle Creek. He deserves the one he didn’t win this year.
“To be fair, I think the horse has come back quite well.”