Thu, 10 Dec 2020
NICKY Henderson admitted that he was “dying to run” Altior in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday.
The two-time Champion Chase winner was withdrawn from the Group One race the night before, after issues with the ground.
The Lambourn trainer revealed that it was a very tough decision, as he wanted to see the 10-year-old return to action for the first-time this season.
“It was very difficult, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and it’s as simple as that,” said Henderson.
“I wasn’t going to risk him, it wasn’t anything to do with the opposition because he has met Politologue three times and he’s slammed him every time.
“I was dying to run him, but I couldn’t do it,” he admitted. “Nico [de Boinville] didn’t like it and we agreed the night before.”
Henderson still looks back at the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot last year, when Altior was beaten by Cyrname in very testing conditions.
The Seven Barrows trainer knows how much it took out of his stable star.
He said: “You have to go back and remember the race he had last year at Ascot and that was in very sticky and horrible ground.
“He had a very bad experience and I couldn’t risk him going through that again because the vet that day feared for his life.
“He put his life and soul into it and if I had asked him to go into this season with ground like that again, it could have been curtains.
“We got so close to the bottom of the tank and there was a moment where he pulled up and he was about to collapse, and nobody wants that.”
Altior, who hasn’t featured since winning the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February, will now head to Kempton for the Desert Orchid Chase over Christmas.
Henderson said: “When you take a horse like him [Altior] out then it’s disappointing for the public because they were going to see him [at Sandown].
“When we get to Kempton, there might be 5,000 people, but it makes no difference because we can only run him in one of them.
“I am sorry for the people that are upset, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do – it’s my job. I have to look after the well-being of horses.”