Altior is highly unlikely to take up his engagement in the 32Red King George VI Chase – although trainer Nicky Henderson admits the Kempton showpiece on Boxing Day is “very tempting”.
Had the three-mile feature been in a month’s time, then the Seven Barrows handler feels Altior may well have taken his chance.
The time between Altior’s seasonal debut triumph in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday to Kempton is what concerns Henderson rather than the step up in distance.
“We had a long discussion about it after racing and I’d love to have a go. If it was in a month’s time I don’t think there would be any doubt we would,” Henderson told Racing UK’s Luck On Sunday programme.
“I cannot believe that however comfortably he might have won that he is going to come out of that in 17 days’ time not a little bruised from yesterday.
“It’s very tempting. We left him in on Tuesday so I don’t say we’ve ruled it out, but we virtually did. He’s got time on his side – I know we can be accused of wrapping him up in cotton wool.”
Revealing Altior had lost a shoe in his epic defeat of Un De Sceaux, Henderson said: “He wasn’t quite sound this morning when they put the shoe back on, but it’s come back off and they’ve rung me and are perfectly happy.
“It will be poulticed and he’ll be fine.”
He went on: “Going that gallop in heavy ground has to have taken something out of him and it was his first run. It was testing old stuff – it was for brave boys as well as good boys.
“I always think they need a bit more time. You don’t want to come back too quick from that first run.
“There’s one obvious race for him at Cheltenham – the Champion Chase – and that is the only thing that really matters.
“There are things we would like to do afterwards. You’d like to go to two and a half (miles) first. That would not prove an awful lot. He’s going to get that. Aintree would not tell us a whole heap by going two and a half round there.
“If it was in a month’s time and on decent ground I would say we’d be almost be certainly doing it (King George). I think 17 days is a tall order and I suspect it’s highly unlikely.”