Cheltenham Festival: Altior withdrawn and will not run in Queen Mother Champion Chase

Two-time Champion Chase winner was bidding for a third straight victory and fifth overall win at Cheltenham but pulled up lame on Sunday and has been withdrawn by trainer Nicky Henderson

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 10 March 2020 11:35
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Drone shots of Cheltenham race course

Altior will not run in Wednesday's Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after trainer Nicky Henderson confirmed he had been withdrawn after pulling up lame at the weekend.

The two-time Champion Chase winner was bidding for a third consecutive title this year after cementing its status as one of the Festival greats, having already one the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Arkle Trophy in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

But Henderson said on Sunday that a dormant splint that had not caused the 10-year-old any previous issues had “reared its ugly head”, and despite naming Altior at the 48-hour declaration following good progress overnight on Monday, his recovery has not progressed as hoped to leave the trainer little choice than to withdraw the horse.

"What is really disappointing is the improvement from the night before last to yesterday morning was so good that we were genuinely optimistic that, as long as that recovery rate was maintained, we figured he'd be sound this morning, and that is not the case,” Henderson told the Press Association.

"It's flattened off, he hasn't improved at all from last night, whereas the night before he improved dramatically. Consequently I think it's only right now that he will be taken out of the race."

He added: "It's brutal - it's not an issue that has ever bothered him before, he's never taken a lame step in his life. The timing is just ridiculous, but that's what we say every year - you know something will come and bite you, but there are certain ones that are a bit bigger than the rest.

"It's very cruel, and cruel on everybody to be fair. To get him back from that race at Ascot to where he is now - he's been in such brilliant form, but he won't be there to show it."

Altior suffered his first defeat over jumps in November after winning 19 consecutive races, beaten by Cyrname in the 1965 Chase at Ascot, but has returned to form by winning newbury’s Game Spirit Chase in February and was hotly fancied to make it three from three in Wednesday’s main event.

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