Nicky Henderson has reported his unbeaten charge Altior to be in “seriously good form” after a gallop at Newbury ahead of his seasonal return in the Tingle Creek Chase.
The eight-year-old is the 2/5 favourite with Betfred to make it 15 victories on the spin when he steps out at Sandown on December 8 for the Grade One race.
Henderson has given Altior’s return careful consideration, deciding to swerve an initial outing in last weekend’s Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in favour of the Tingle Creek.
Instead of running at Cheltenham, he enjoyed a first outing on grass this season in the hands of conditional jockey Ned Curtis at Newbury and Henderson was delighted with what he saw from his stable star.
“I couldn’t have been happier with that. It was a much-needed away day for him and he’s just had a nice stretch over a mile and a half,” said the Seven Barrows handler. “He’s in seriously good form – spectacular form.”
The three-time Cheltenham Festival winner has recently been mentioned in connection with the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
However, Henderson has played down talk of Altior stepping up to three miles, believing he is better suited to two miles, putting him in line to defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at Cheltenham next March (Altior 11/8 Champion Chase).
Before thoughts turn to Prestbury Park, Altior will first need to take care of business in the Tingle Creek, with six rivals currently set to oppose him.
Odds subject to change