Talking Horses: Altior skips Newbury and Champ switches to Game Spirit

Nicky Henderson has revised running plans for his two star chasers in the build-up to next month’s Cheltenham Festival

Altior will go straight to Cheltenham and Champ is to drop down to just two miles for his reappearance run next weekend, following a surprise decision by Nicky Henderson on Sunday to shuffle the running plans for his star chasers. It follows the reorganisation of Newbury’s valuable Betfair Hurdle card, which was abandoned because of frost on Saturday and postponed by eight days to a new slot next Sunday.

That leaves just over three weeks for any horses who run that day to recover in time for the Festival and the difference of a week is evidently enough to make Henderson nervous about the prospect of running Altior so close to his big target for the season, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Accordingly, Altior will miss his hitherto intended run in the Game Spirit and Champ will take his place in that race in the hope of a less taxing return to action than the three-mile Denman might have been.

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