Henderson happy with Altior's preparation ahead of Cheltenham

All roads lead to Cheltenham next monthAll roads lead to Cheltenham next month
All roads lead to Cheltenham next month | Getty
Trainer Nicky Henderson is content with Altior’s preparation ahead of next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Henderson is the second most successful trainer in history at the Festival with 64 winners, one behind great rival Willie Mullins, and has been the leading trainer at the meeting nine times.

Altior is aiming for a third successive victory in the £400,000 Grade 1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles, a feat achieved only once before by Badsworth Boy in 1983, 1984, 1985.

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Now a ten-year-old, Altior tasted his first defeat over obstacles when stepped up in trip to two miles and five furlongs in the Grade 2 1965 Chase at Ascot in November, but bounced back with a dominant victory back at two miles in the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury earlier this month.

Altior is unbeaten in four starts at The Festival, having also captured the Grade 1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016 and the Grade 1 Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase in 2017.

Henderson said: “All is going well with Altior. He has been ticking over since Newbury and will have a couple of schools before Cheltenham. I seldom school him but I think he just enjoys it.

“If we take Newbury as Altior’s first run of the season, which you have to really, it was perfect. If you were coming into the Tingle Creek or something on the back of that, you would say we are absolutely spot on.

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“The disaster was the first run of the year, in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong ground over the wrong trip. I could not have made a worse job of it if I had tried!

“It looks a seriously good Champion Chase and should be a big battle. Altior is certainly fresh and well now, and the better ground, the better he will be.”

The Festival™ presented by Magners gets under way on Tuesday, March 10.