Nicky Henderson thrilled with Altior progress

Nicky Henderson believes he has Altior exactly where he wants him ahead of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

A winner at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Arkle Trophy, he was forced to miss the first half of this season having undergone a breathing procedure.

That has done nothing to dent his brilliance, though, as he returned to action at Newbury recently and breezed past Tingle Creek winner Politologue.

“All is very good. He hasn’t done anything serious since (Newbury). He has had two good strong canters today. He will work at the weekend and he doesn’t need to go to a racecourse,” said Henderson.

“He has got three bits of work to do between now and then and a couple of schools. He likes his jumping and it keeps his eye in.

“Newbury was as good as one could possibly have dared hoped for. The timing of the race was fantastic. It is again just fingers crossed now.

“He did have to run to a pretty good level and on just three bits of work since last year’s Celebration Chase was a pretty fair performance.”

He went on: “To his credit he held on to his condition well. If you take a fit horse and go from training to zero in one move you don’t let it down, you are stopping on one date and that was it for a month and very often they will fall to pieces on you.

“He looked great and we could crack straight on. Nico (de Boinville) gave him a great ride at Newbury and Sam (Twiston-Davies) gave us a great lead.

“One minute we thought he was going to go very quick and test us and the next minute we thought they weren’t going to make it at all. I just like the way he dropped his bridle and he was just very sensible the whole way.

“He raced sweetly and jumped beautifully. You couldn’t dare write the script.

“When we weighed him two or three or days before Newbury he was remarkably close to his normal racing weight. If he had been 30 kilos over I would have been frightened to death. He was only six or six seven kilos over what he was, which told us he wasn’t desperately unfit.

“When he is doing his cantering he finds everything so easy. He is just actually different class. I think that is what it was at Newbury and that gets you a long way.”