Altior waits for Sandown
Altior will bypass Friday’s Grade 1 JLT Melling Chase at Aintree and instead be targeted at the bet365 Celebration Chase on the final day of the 2017-18 jumps season at Sandown.
The Champion Chase winner’s trainer Nicky Henderson said in a statement on Sunday: “We have decided that Altior will not run at Aintree in the Melling Chase on Friday and instead head to Sandown for the Celebration Chase, which he won last year.
“I would have loved to have tried him over two-and-a-half miles [in the Melling Chase], and it was a real temptation, but we’ve got another Grade 1 in a fortnight’s time around a track he likes and, as we can’t do both we will wait.”
Altior returned from wind surgery to capture the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, finishing the race with his customary strong surge to the line.
However, Henderson, and jockey Nico de Boinville, believe giving the eight-year-old extra time before his next race will be better for him.
Henderson said: “He’s done one good piece of work and schooled once since Cheltenham and everything has been absolutely brilliant. But no horse had an easy race at Cheltenham on that ground so we might as well do the sensible thing and make full use of the extra time we’ve got.
“The first words Nico said to me when he got off after the Champion Chase were, ‘He’s had a tough race today’. So we all feel the extra two weeks will freshen him up a little more.”
While Altior will not form part of champion trainer Henderson’s star squad, Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite will take part in Thursday’s Betway Bowl at Aintree.
Henderson added: “Might Bite is certainly telling us that he has come out of Cheltenham extremely well and, barring incident, he definitely goes to Aintree.
“He’s working very well and his schooling has been great. He’s been out this morning and says, in horse language, he’s very well.”