ALTIOR showed he has lost none of his brilliant ability with a comfortable comeback victory in the Grade 2 Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury.
Unbeaten in 11 previous starts over jumps and a dual Cheltenham Festival winner having landed the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy in the last two seasons, Nicky Henderson's stable star was making a belated start to the campaign after undergoing a wind operation.
Despite his absence, he was the 1/3 favourite to claim a contest better known as the Game Spirit for the second successive year, and those who took the cramped odds will have had few concerns for the duration of the extended two-mile journey.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Politologue, the star of the division this season in Altior's absence after landing the Haldon Gold Cup, Tingle Creek and the Desert Orchid Chase, was soon bowling along in front, with Nico de Boinville happy to sit in behind aboard Altior.
Politologue's rider Sam Twiston-Davies did his best to run the finish out of his main rival, kicking for home from the final bend, but Altior's class shone through as he coasted by after the final fence to score readily.
Politologue was a clear second, while Valdez finished last of the three runners after showing some promise on his first competitive appearance in over three years.