Aintree has lost two of its potential stars with Nicky Henderson confirming neither Altior nor Santini will make the trip to Merseyside next week.
Henderson had mooted that Altior would seek a 19th straight win, and step up to two and a half miles, in the JLT Chase (better known as the Melling Chase), while Santini, who lost out narrowly to Topofthegame at Cheltenham, looked to be on course for the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
Updating plans in his Unibet blog, the Seven Barrows handler said of Altior: “He is absolutely fine and there is nothing to worry about, but Nico (de Boinville) had a couple of sits on him this week and jumped four fences yesterday (Thursday), and I was very hopeful he’d be up to running in the Melling Chase.
“To the eye he looks awesome, but Nico just believes he’s still feeling the effects of Cheltenham.
“It a very similar scenario to last year, and we only have three weeks this time, but the horse tells us where he is and at the moment he’s telling us that we need to sit this one out and go to Sandown for the Celebration Chase.
“It’s a shame because I was very keen to go to Aintree and step him up to two and a half mile but there’s no point running these horses if they are not on the top of their game.”
He added: “Santini is another who will not be heading to Liverpool as he is already on holiday and we have decided to put him away until next season.
“He’s perfectly well and healthy and more sound than he ever has been and I want to keep it that way so we’re going to put him away while he is safe and sound, as I want to look after him.”