Altior has had a very frustrating season to date picking up little niggles and also losing his unbeaten run in his only run of the season over his first try over an extended trip and now he is set to miss the Grade One Clarence House Chase in favour of a trip to Newbury.
The 10 year old can only be entered in the Champion Chase at the festival but having not ran at that trip all season he will need to get at least one run in before he heads to Prestbury Park in March.
Henderson believes something has not been right ever since his run at Ascot when losing his 19 race unbeaten streak to Cyrname in the Grade Two 1965 Christy Chase and since then he has had an abscess in one of his legs and also not taken well to the antibiotics to relieve that.
However, he does still have time to turn his season around and we must not forget he is one of the all time great national hunt horses that owes the sport nothing at all but if he could be in prime condition for a crack at a hat-trick of Champion Chases at Cheltenham then it would be one of the training performances of the season.
The race he will head for at Newbury in preparation is the Game Spirit chase in which he won in 2017 and 2018 in is lead up to the festival.
(Credit At The Races) Henderson said: “I’ve spoken to (Ascot clerk of the course) Chris Stickels and (owner) Pat Pugh and in view of the forecast, we haven’t confirmed him.
“We’ll keep everything up our sleeve option-wise, but I think he will run in the Game Spirit whatever happens – he’s run in that before when it was soft and won, and it was soft the year he beat Politologue.
“That’s the objective.”