Altior may go straight to Champion Chase
The prospect of Racing Post Arkle hero Altior heading straight to the Cheltenham Festival in March is no concern to Nicky Henderson.
Unbeaten in five starts over hurdles and six over fences with two Festival wins, Altior is one of the biggest names in jump racing, but underwent a wind operation last month.
That meant he missed last Saturday’s Tingle Creek at Sandown, but Henderson hopes to have him back for Cheltenham and identified the Game Spirit at Newbury on February 10 as perhaps the only comeback option.
If he does not make the track for a run before Cheltenham, he would almost certainly have a racecourse gallop somewhere in the spring, the trainer added.
“The Game Spirit is probably the last chance,” said Henderson. “We’ve got to play it by the book and we can’t go any faster than the rule book says.
“He’s not even being ridden yet – he’s allowed to walk. He’s as frustrated as I am. You’re watching the Tingle Creek and it’s awfully disappointing watching it not being there because I can’t believe we weren’t going to be involved.”
Henderson added: “It wouldn’t worry me going straight to the Festival. We’ve done it befoe and we can ge there without a race. If you can, get one of course, but what you don’t want is a race when you’re not ready for it because you’ll do more harm than good – you’ll knock them backwards rather than bring them forwards.”