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Altior "extremely unlikely" to run in King George, says Nicky Henderson

Sat 14 Dec 2019

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.

Nicky Henderson provided Lydia Hislop with an update on Altior at Cheltenham

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.

Speaking at Cheltenham on Saturday, Henderson told Unibet: “I’ve been very happy with him since Ascot, (but) he was very, very tired at the end of that race. It was horrible ground and I sort of got the feeling he was never travelling like he should do.

“I’ve been happy with him at home, but the whole thing was hinging on Nico riding him in a piece of work – and I have to say this morning he thought he was a bit flat.

“He didn’t work badly at all. All we want to do is clear the air as far as the King George is concerned. We’ve got another 12 days to go, but I want to say today that it is extremely unlikely that he will run.

“If you did, you’re going to get another hard race and while I’m not saying you have to mind him, he is as good as there is anywhere and therefore one has to look after them and appreciate that.”

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: “We’ll decide what we’re going to do next once we’ve let the dust settle on this one.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out. I’m just saying we have to consider it very unlikely he’ll run in the King George.

“We wanted to let everybody know what we were doing today as everybody knows what we were doing this morning.

“He didn’t really give the answer that Nico and I wanted and I think we have to respect that.”

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