Nicky Henderson has announced Altior will not take up his entry in the Unibet Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton this weekend – and also revealed his only entry at Cheltenham in March will be the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The brilliant 10-year-old has not been seen in competitive action since suffering his first defeat in 20 starts over obstacles when runner-up to Cyrname in a much-anticipated clash at Ascot in November.
He missed an intended outing in the Desert Orchid Chase over the festive period due an abscess, but Henderson provided a positive update following a pleasing workout on Saturday morning – and the following day confirmed the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two at the Sunbury track as his target.
Altior was the headline name among just six entries on Monday and would have been a red-hot favourite to get back on the winning trail, but Henderson will now wait for the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury on February 8.
Henderson said in his blog for Unibet on Tuesday: “Unfortunately, Altior will now not take his chance in the Unibet Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton at the weekend because we do not feel he looks his absolute best and despite working well on Saturday he is still not 100 per cent compared to previous years and he could still be feeling the side effects of the antibiotics he was given to treat the abscess on his wither.
“Altior owes us nothing at all so our one and only priority is his well-being so it would be unkind to run him if he isn’t at his brilliant best. I would like to add that his blood test yesterday was perfect and he is very well within himself but this is a case of instinct, and our instinct tells us that he just doesn’t look as good as he can do.
“He will be given 10 days on the ‘easy list’ and spend some time on the water treadmill. We’ll throw everything at him to get him right so we’ll tuck him up and give him the very best.
“He’s fit so it’s just a case of ticking him over. The plan is for him run in the Game Spirit at Newbury and he will be given one entry at Cheltenham which will be in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.