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ALTIOR has done “everything right” in his four races this season ahead of the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase, trainer Nicky Henderson said this week.
Henderson is the all-time leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival with 55 winners and hopes to add to the impressive tally with Altior, the hot favourite for the Grade 1 contest on the first day of The Festival on March 14.
Altior last year capped a tremendous campaign over hurdles by winning the Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle and has transferred his ability to chasing where he is unbeaten in all of his four runs over the larger obstacles.
The seven-year-old extended his unbeaten sequence in all races to nine when landing a Grade 2 at Newbury last month to register his 10th win in 12 starts and is now a red-hot 2-7 favourite for the Arkle.
“I was very confident about Altior at this time last year. I think he has transferred his ability to chasing and not made many mistakes,” Henderson said at a media stable visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse on Wednesday.
“The one nice thing is that he has learnt from his two mistakes in four runs – he has done everything right.
“One’s only thought is, goodness, what price would he be for the Champion Hurdle if we were still going down the hurdling road? The big question at the moment is will we dare switch him to take on Douvan in the Champion Chase. No, we won’t. We want to win the Arkle, that is the objective and that is where he will stay.
“You cannot be confident, instead seriously hopeful that you have a horse that can win. You hope he can on the first day because then you have the ball rolling.
“All you need, no matter how many you have got running, is one success at The Festival. If you can have one on the first day, as we did with him in the first race last year, then you have got the show on the road and from then on you can add to it – the world ends if you do not get one.”
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