Nicky Henderson has revealed Altior is “extremely unlikely” to take up his entry in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase after failing to fully convince connections during a workout on Saturday morning.
The Seven Barrows handler confirmed earlier this year that his dual Queen Mother Champion Chase hero would be stepped up in distance this season, with the Boxing Day showpiece at Kempton identified as a major objective.
However, he suffered his first defeat in 20 starts over obstacles when unable to reel in the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname in a highly-anticipated clash at Ascot last month.
Henderson was keen to let the dust settle, but confirmed last weekend that a crucial workout was in the offing – and both the trainer and jockey Nico de Boinville were not 100 per cent satisfied with the results.
“It wasn’t as if he didn’t work well – it was very satisfactory as he worked with two very good horses. Nico just said he felt a little bit flat and he didn’t have his normal mojo,” said Henderson.
“I’ve spoken to Pat Pugh (owner), literally as we arrived on the racecourse, as they are up in the Lake District where there is no signal, and we are really saying the King George is extremely unlikely.
“He is not out, but it is unlikely. Nothing is certain in racing and in life, but that is where we stand at the moment.”
Henderson would not be drawn on whether Altior could still step up to three miles at some stage, or revert to the two-mile distance over which he has enjoyed such phenomenal success.
He added: “He had a very hard race and was very tired after the race at Ascot. We don’t want to put him into another fierce battle as we might undo everything.
“Me and the owners have got to look after the horse as he is the most important part of the equation.
“What we do next, I don’t know. The King George is the one we really wanted to go for and I’m gutted about it.”