Nicky Henderson is in upbeat mood on Altior’s Cheltenham chances and feels he can overcome unfavourable conditions to win again.
Trainer Nicky Henderson is confident Altior can successfully defend his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown (Altior 2/5 fav) at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.
The Patricia Pugh-owned nine-year-old saw off the challenge of Min (9/2) and God’s Own (33/1) to win the Grade One race 12 months ago and will now be looking to claim glory at the Festival for the fourth successive year, as he was also victorious in the Supreme in 2016 and the 2017 Arkle.
It is certainly difficult to see beyond Altior, who will be chasing a record-equalling 18th successive victory over jumps, a record that is currently held by Big Buck’s.
Henderson is undoubtedly confident his gelding will deliver the goods at Prestbury Park as he feels his preparations have gone a lot smoother than they did 12 months ago.
“We hope he can win his 18th consecutive race. Everything has gone quite smoothly,” Henderson said.
“The prep has been good. We have come in on a different strategy this year and we stopped after the Clarence House. He has been great.”
The 68-year-old trainer has conceded that underfoot conditions at Cheltenham will not be ideal for Altior, but he does not see that hampering his progress too much.
“Soft ground doesn’t help Altior, but he is in great form and they should set him a good gallop,” he added.
“We’ve just got to go out and do it. This has been the objective all year and he is the guy we rely on to head the squad.”
Odds subject to change.