Thu, 21 Feb 2019
SEVEN Barrows trainer Nicky Henderson believes a break for Altior will put him in good stead ahead of next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The nine-year-old will be chasing a second successive Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) on Wednesday, March 13.
Altior has won his last 18 races and, despite the pressure of being one of the favourites, Henderson is confident he can deliver again.
He said: “He has gone really well so far and he’s not put a foot wrong and he has had a little break, so he’ll be coming into it nice and fresh.”
However, Henderson is aware of the competition he will face, with the Willie Mullins trio of Min, Footpad and Un De Sceaux all well priced.
He said: “We’re getting to a point where anything other than a really good performance just won’t do, but there will be plenty of opposition for him.”
Henderson was speaking at his stables on Monday morning ahead of the festival, which kicks off on March 12.
Along with Altior on show, Buveur D’Air was present as he bids to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle for the third straight year.
“He is in good shape – you have to keep working him because he really didn’t take to Cheltenham last year that much,” said Henderson.
“He won it on ability and sheer guts, but we knew he wasn’t at his best.”
Preparations for Henderson, and other trainers, were affected due to the recent outbreak of equine flu earlier this month.
He said: “We have been thrown out of sync because of what happened last week and it was a nuisance because we had to stop everything.
“A lot of horses who were going to run last weekend have missed their proposed trial, but I am hopeful we can have a racecourse gallop.
“Buveur D’Air had his run at Sandown, while Altior has had a break.”
Henderson will have two entries for the Gold Cup on March 15 – Might Bite and Terrefort.
Might Bite is currently 14/1 for the prestigious event and Henderson believes he has the pace to win,
“Might Bite is the showman really,” admitted Henderson. “He’s gorgeous and there’s a sex appeal about him.”