Options remain open for Altior’s potential return to action this weekend after he was left in both the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot.
Unbeaten in 19 starts over jumps, Nicky Henderson’s superstar looks set for a step up in distance this season, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day identified as a likely target.
Saturday’s Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot has long been identified as Altior’s most likely first port of call this season – throwing up a potentially mouth-watering clash with the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname.
However, he retains the option of heading north to Merseyside for what would be a first appearance over three miles.
Should Altior line up at Haydock, he will face the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai – winner of the race in each of the last two years and bidding to become the third three-times winner after the legendary Kauto Star, who won four renewals between 2006 and 2011, and Cue Card.
Twiston-Davies is also set to saddle Charlie Hall Chase winner Ballyoptic, while Cue Card’s former trainer Colin Tizzard has confirmed the exciting Lostintranslation and Elegant Escape.
The potential field is completed by Frodon, who will bid to provide Paul Nicholls with a record seventh victory in the race following Kauto Star’s four triumphs and the two wins of Silviniaco Conti.
Altior and Cyrname are two of five initial entries for the two-mile-five-furlong Grade Two at Ascot.
Completing the quintet are Keeper Hill, Solomon Grey and Top Notch.