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Wednesday 03
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Horse Racing

Henderson hopeful of Altior return to form

31st March 2020, 16:09 by Chris Rivers

Trainer Nicky Henderson believes there are plenty more good days ahead for Altior despite a disappointing 2019-20 season.

The 10-year-old entered the campaign on the back of a 19-race undefeated streak, a run which included back-to-back Queen Mother Champion Chase successes, and was expected to have another big year.

However, the season got off to a bad start when Altior's winning run came to an end at the hands of Cyrname in the Grade 2 Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot towards the end of November.

Although he bounced back to winning ways at Newbury in February, more disappointment was to follow when Henderson had to withdraw his stable star from the defence of his Champion Chase crown at Cheltenham after he failed to recover sufficiently from a splint problem.

Henderson is confident of Altior returning to his best next season and adding to his five Cheltenham Festival wins, believing this year had been partly ruined by forcing him to step up in trip to face Cyrname, something the Seven Barrows handler says he massively regrets.

"He's doing fine, it was just splints he had and they can come at any time to any horse," he told the Racing Post. "It's just frustrating when it comes three days before the Champion Chase! All I can say looking back is Altior beat [Champion Chase winner] Politologue three times and with a wide margin every time.

"He'll be back next year, touch wood. He looked as good as ever at Newbury the last day and we still think there's lots of improvement to come from that."

When asked about his loss to Cyrname, he added: "The race at Ascot was a big mistake. It was their first run of the season, him and Cyrname, and on that ground which was the important bit. If he had a prep race it might've been a different ball game, but having a dust-up first time was stupid.

"We shouldn't have done it but, at the same time, if I had taken him out of the race I would've needed a police escort to get out of the racecourse!"

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Chris Rivers is an experienced reporter who closely follows both Arsenal and Wales Rugby Union team. As well as in-depth football and rugby knowledge, Chris is an avid American Football, Formula One and boxing fan.

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