Cyrname is two from two over course and distance ahead of his hotly anticipated clash with the mighty Altior in the 2m 5f Grade 2 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday (14:05).
This is billed as a match between the highly-rated pair. Given his impressive displays at this venue and the fact that trainer Paul Nicholls has won five of the last nine renewals, Cyrname is the value bet at the odds on offer.
The seven-year-old Nickname gelding is five from 10 over fences and has a good record over this trip.
As a novice, Cyrname won the Grade 2 Wayward Lad and Pendil Chase at Kempton either side of a fine effort when beaten a neck by Terrefort in the Scilly Isles at Sandown.
Going right-handed is essential for him, so he’s been kept to clockwise race tracks since finishing fourth to the ill-fated Finian’s Oscar in the Grade 1 Manifesto at Aintree.
Although Cyrname found the drop back in trip against him in a competitive class 2 handicap on this card 12 months, he was a revelation over course and distance in January.
He made most of the running off top-weight for a facile 21-length victory. That gave connections confidence to pitch Cyrname straight back in at the highest level for the Grade 1 Ascot Chase in February.
Again, he jumped well and this time made all – drawing right away from two out to slam Waiting Patiently by 17 lengths.
This track and trip are optimum for Cyrname and that’s simply not the case with main market rival Altior.
As his opponent has to prove he stays this far, side with Cyrname at 11/8 with Betway for 1965 Chase glory.
Reasons to take fearsome Altior on in 1965 Chase
Despite an unbeaten record 19 races over hurdles and fences under his belt, the hugely respected Altior has never had a run further than 2m 2f.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has raised doubts about the dual champion two-mile chaser being able to stay based on his gallops work.
Altior has done it all over the minimum trip, however, and connections are keen to experiment. The son of High Chaparral is clearly the best two-miler of his generation.
That stellar CV of Altior’s includes three consecutive Celebration Chase successes and the Tingle Creek at Sandown, two Game Spirit wins around Newbury, and four Cheltenham Festival victories on the bounce.
His winning performance in the Grade 1 Clarence House here in January saw him make all to beat Fox Norton easing down by seven lengths.
That does not tell the full story, however, as Altior jumped out to his left and forfeited ground while doing so.
It didn’t stop him from continuing what has since become a National Hunt record winning sequence, but does raise concerns.
An unproven stayer giving away ground makes 1965 Chase odds of 4/6 with Bethard for Altior unappealing.
At the age of nine rising 10, you also have to wonder how much improvement is left. Until punters know whether Altior can get the trip, he is worth taking on because there is a case against him.
Solomon Grey completes the 1965 Chase trio engaged this year. Dan Skelton’s charge is the rank outside and rated well over two stone inferior to the market principals.
Although he looks booked for a distant third, Solomon Grey picks up nearly £7,500 in prize money granted a clear round.