Game Spirit still plan for Altior

Altior could bid to get back on track in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February.

Trainer Nicky Henderson has used the Grade Two contest over two miles as a prep run for the Cheltenham Festival in the past, with Altior taking the prize in 2018 and 2020.

The Seven Barrows handler will be hoping the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner will show his spark in that race, having been beaten into second place by Nube Negra in Sunday’s Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.

Altior was scoped after that race, and Henderson is awaiting the results.

“We’ve scoped him – but it has to go to the laboratory, and we will look at it from there,” he said.

“We scoped him on Christmas Eve, but it was perfectly clean. Our vet has been closed here – so all our scopes are going to Newmarket, and that takes a bit of time.

“We will probably know a bit more tomorrow. He was very bright and sparky in himself this morning anyway – and so was Epatante (second at 1-5 in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle). She was very fresh.

“They did scope Altior there (Kempton), and there was something there. There was no blood or anything like that. There was probably a significant amount of mucus in there. You scope any horse after a race, and it always brings anything out of the bottom of the lungs.”

Looking to plans for Altior as he spoke at Newbury on Tuesday, Henderson added: “I would have thought this (Game Spirit) is the most likely place he will go.

“I’ve not thought about it yet (Cheltenham entries and Ryanair). I’ve not put him in the Clarence House, because that would come too quick anyway. We just want to get to him the bottom of a little bit.

“He has got a bit dreamier in his races – that is a bit of age and a bit of this and that. For all the world it looked as though he wanted two and a half miles because he finished his race very well – which was encouraging.”

Source : Sky Sports