Superstar chaser Altior will not run at this week’s Cheltenham Festival, having been pulled out of the Queen Mother Champion Chase by his trainer Nicky Henderson this morning (10 March).
The Grade One contest takes place tomorrow (11 March) and Altior was due to go up against the likes of Defi Du Seuil, Chacun Pour Soi and Dynamite Dollars as he aimed for a third successive win in the race.
But the 10-year-old son of High Chaparral, who is owned by Patricia Pugh, suffered a setback on Sunday when he was lame as a result of a splint issue and has failed to recover 100% in time for the big race.
The Seven Barrows stable star is a four-time winner at the Festival, having landed the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2016, the Arkle Novices’ Chase in 2017 and impressively the 2018 and 2019 renewals of the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
“Sadly we have had to finally admit defeat with Altior and therefore scratch him from the Champion Chase tomorrow,” said Nicky. “This is really disappointing as the improvement yesterday was so encouraging that we were optimistic of getting there.
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“That improvement did not continue last night and it is only fair to him and everybody else to reluctantly withdraw and try to make sure we can get him back for Aintree, Punchestown or the Celebration Chase at Sandown Park — which he has won the last two years.”
The trainer added: “I am sure it will still be a great race but I’m so sad that this great clash that we were all anticipating cannot happen, so we will have to lend somebody else his crown. I wish them all well.”
Don’t miss our preview ahead of the Cheltenham Festival in the 5 March issue of Horse & Hound, and read the full report in the 19 March issue.
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