Leading trainer Nicky Henderson on Monday released some of his star names off on an early summer holiday with the end of the jumps season coming much sooner than expected.
Henderson at this time of the year in past season would be getting plenty of his brigade ready for the final big showdown of the national hunt season at Sandown, where he would have also been crowned the champion trainer for the sixth time in his career.
However, with the ongoing situation in the world racing is still suspended and there will be no ceremony or finale at Sandown this season.
Henderson said: “We’ve turned a lot of horses out today, it’s unnaturally early to be turning them out, it’s only April and normally they wouldn’t be going out for another three weeks at least.
“We’ve had to wait until now, because it has been so cold and then so dry and the grass hasn’t grown. We had a good inch of rain on Friday night into Saturday and that will get it going and there’s a nice forecast for the week, so the grass should grow.”
Altior had a less than impressive season by his own standards with him losing his unbeaten record for the first time in 20 races and suffering with injuries throughout the season.
But, this weekend he would have been heading to the Esher track and going in search of his fourth consecutive Grade One Celebration Chase.
Epatante is another of the handlers stars who will be going for an early summer this year and Henderson reports she is in fine health.
“Altior hasn’t gone out today, but he’ll be going out next week. He’s fine and that (Sandown) would have been the idea.
“It’s always a fun day that last day at Sandown, we all enjoy it and it’s a bit of an end-of-term thing isn’t it.”