Nicky Henderson's Altior was the subject of significant support in Cheltenham Fesitval's Queen Mother Champion Chase market following a foot-perfect display at Newbury on February 10.
The eight-year-old made his seasonal bow, returning from a long injury lay-off and showed very few signs of rustiness as he made all in the three-runner field. He was sent off odds-on favourite for the Grade 2 contest and rarely looked in any danger during a classy exhibition of jumping.
Conditions were far from ideal and the Seven Barrows stable will be hoping for slightly firmer ground at Prestbury Park where Altior will be aiming to continue its superb unbeaten record.
The impressive four-length victory over Politologue provoked an outpouring of admiration on social media with many punters also reacting quickly to snap up the odds-against price offered on the dual-Cheltenham winner to replicate that success in March.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase, which gets underway on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, is one of the most anticipated races on the card and will see Altior and Politologue cross swords once again.
The four-day extravaganza pitches some of the biggest stars of the National Hunt scene together across a number of mouth-watering contests and there are always plenty of twists and turns along the way.
Racecards for each day of the Gloucestershire event will be available at Timeform throughout the week, alongside a number of expert tips including the Long Ranger and the Jury Daily, which has chalked up nine consecutive years of profit.
Despite his imperious performance under the guidance of Nico de Boinville, Altior will face stiff competition from the versatile Min. The Willie Mullins-trained horse bounced back from a defeat at Leopardstown at the end of 2017 with an all-conquering performance in the Dublin Chase at the beginning of February. Beating a decent field which contained Simply Ned and Special Tiara, Min stretched clear and looks ready for this March showpiece. The Mullins runner is now second-favourite in the market ahead of the aforementioned Politologue.
Douvan will also be keen to make amends from last season's disappointing performance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when finishing a distant seventh. Having won nine of ten chase starts, the French thoroughbred could be a risky proposition having missed the entire season through injury.
After being ruled out of the 2017 Tingle Creek, Douvan's price nosedived, but despite this, the Mullins-trained runner remains third in the betting. Altior wasn't ostensibly affected by his 287-day layoff and a similarly explosive return to the track is expected for Douvan.
Fox Norton, Un Des Sceaux and Waiting Patiently are also in the line-up and it should be a hugely competitive event. Altior is the odds-on favourite and remains the one to beat. The Henderson charge looked extremely classy in softer-than-ideal conditions and should the eight-year-old get his preferred good ground, the favourite could be difficult to stop when taking to the turf at Prestbury Park.