Nicky Henderson anticipates the outcome of the Christy 1965 Chase to go a very long way to determining exactly what the future holds for Altior because he begs for a clash with Cyrname.
Unbeaten in 19 starts over jumps, Altiors standing as a superstar of this sport has long been secured, but so far he faces his toughest assignment on Saturday in Ascot.
Having won the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the Arkle, the Tingle Creek and a few Queen Mother Champion Chases, connections have determined that the time is appropriate to step beyond two miles into the evaluation and unknown Altior.
The two-mile-five-furlong Grade 2 of this weekend is seen as the perfect stepping-stone to a tilt at the King George VI Chase over three miles at Kempton on Boxing Day — but Henderson has stressed all future strategies hinge on the way Altior performs in Berkshire.
Stamina will be the problem. Nico (de Boinville) has thought he was racing at the conclusion of last year as if he wanted another half a mile, and on Saturday that he will find the next five furlongs, said the Seven Barrows handler.
It will test his stamina, Im sure. He does not work as a stayer, so let us hope hes correct, however, Nico is determined he needs it.
Weve got to give it a try and we are starting over two-miles-five, which I hope will lead us into three miles. Goodness knows exactly what happens if it doesnt, as we have left the Tingle Creek behind.
Everything I want to do is win, however it has to be persuasive, also. He wants to prove he can do this and siphoned off. Itll tell us exactly what to do and where were going, theres not any doubt about that.
We will have to find out what happens on the day. We will take it on the chin when it goes the wrong way — he must have defeated one day and this time were putting him to the test
When Henderson identified Ascot because the likely starting point of Altior, he expected the opposition would be scared off by his presence.
However, in the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname he confronts significant rival, with his 17-length demolition of Waiting Patiently in the Ascot Chase over this course and space of February ensuring he finished last year as the highest-rated chaser of Britain — a pound of Altior.
Henderson explained:Theyre constantly coming and so were we. I really dont believe either people theres nowhere else to go and are shirkers of battles.
I really dont need to await the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon (December 8) as its getting quite near Kempton. That race may not have told you a lot. It may have been an easier choice, however, we arent searching for that.
Though it was not sufficient to prevent him sauntering to victory in the Clarence House Chase on his last trip to Ascot at January, Altior jumped left at many of his fences.
Henderson added:He did it (jumped left) in Ascot when he was on his very own. I really dont expect him to do that back, but Nico will probably be alert to the fact he did it.
I really dont see it being an issue. No one can predict whats going to happen, but well be watching closely when he turns out that hill.
Whatever happens, Henderson has hinted his bill will either bid to get a Champion Chase hat-trick or move in Prestbury Park in March for Cheltenham Gold Cup glory, rather than run an intermediate distance in the Ryanair over.
He said:Saturday isnt likely to tell us who is going to do anything at Cheltenham. I am going to have pound into a brick which they (Altior and Cyrname) wont be meeting every other in the Ryanair Chase.
As much as the Ryanair is a superb race, Id rather return to two (miles) if that is a requirement
Nicholls isnt one to shy away from a battle and is looking forward to watching his forces are tested by Cyrname against Altior, to get a track which brings out the finest in his or her charge.
He explained:Obviously were looking ahead. It is the beginning of a brand new season for him and it didnt matter what was going to run , we were constantly going to run here.
Its a great place to start the season, however it isnt all about Saturday, there is a lengthy season with great races on the way.
We are looking forward to it, however, and also the fact it is at Ascot must be in his favour. Hes been so striking that there the last twice — which is the reason why were heading back.
The other runner is the Solomon Grey of Dan Skelton.
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