Cheltenham Festival: Altior back on track

2 weeks ago

Trainer Nick Henderson has confirmed that Champion Chase favourite Altior how now been declared fully fit. The 8yo was a huge doubt for Wednesday’s race, when it was revealed that the horse was lame on Monday morning due to pus in the foot. The news gave punters an unwelcome scare with the big race just days away; however, Henderson was quick to put everyone at ease by suggesting that the issue was temporary, and should not impact Altior’s performance whatsoever.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is one of the most hotly anticipated races of the four day Cheltenham Festival. Since its inauguration in 1959, the Champion Chase has seen some of the greatest races in the history of the sport, and with the promise of a mouthwatering showdown between Nick Henderson’s Altior and Willie Mullins’ Douvan, 2018’s edition has all of the makings on an absolute thriller.

On Monday morning, Henderson was handed a massive blow when his horse Altior was deemed lame as a symptom of pus in the foot – a common problem amongst race horses. In a race against time, Henderson and his team are understood to have applied a poultice to the horse, and sacrificed cantering in favour of the less invasive water treadmill training.

“He’s fine and 100 per cent sound this morning. What happened to him wouldn’t be that unusual with a horse at all. It happens all the time, which is why it was very simple to treat. The only day it would really have mattered would have been the day of the race. Then we would have been in trouble,” said Henderson

“It won’t impact on his performance in any way whatsoever, unless it goes backward again. However, we put a shoe on him this morning at six o’clock and he was 100 per cent sound. He had the routine exercise he would normally have had. He is fit and has not missed any work.

“The only thing that changed is he went on the water treadmill on Monday instead of cantering, but if that was going to make any difference he wouldn’t be winning anyway.”

Photos: Getty