Altior will face just two rivals in Saturday’s Matchbook Clarence House Chase at Ascot after Un De Sceaux was not declared for the race.
The Willie Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux would have been bidding for a fourth win the Grade One event, but connections opted not to run as they felt the ground will be faster than ideal in Berkshire.
That leaves Colin Tizzard’s Fox Norton and the Paul Nicholls-trained Diego Du Charmil to take on Altior, who will be trying for a 17th successive victory for Nicky Henderson.
Fox Norton will be having his first run of the season, but assistant trainer Joe Tizzard believes the race was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“We haven’t been able to run him as he pulled a bit of a tendon of the back of his knee in the King George last season,” he told Sky Sports Racing.
“We were never going to run him until after the new year, but thinking of Cheltenham we need to get a run or two into him beforehand.
“He’s taking a lot of work, but he still looks a little burly so we’re keen to run. There’s rain around so it will be safe and he’ll take his chance.
“On his best form, he’s a really good horse.”