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Nicky Henderson Quotes - Ryanair could be an option for Altior

  • We bring you some key quotes from Nicky Henderson this morning
  • Henderson reported that Altior was fit and well following his defeat at Kempton over Christmas
  • The former Champion Trainer also told the Racing Post that Altior might be stepped up in distance
Altior running at Newbury last season. (Getty)

Altior's triumphant return to the track at Kempton didn't go entirely to plan on Sunday. Nicky Henderson's four-time Cheltenham Festival winner, went off as the even-money favourite for the Desert Orchid Chase, but Nico De Boinville was forced to get to work on his mount with over a quarter of the race left to go.

Altior2021 Ryanair Chase GET 20/1 HERE
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In contrast, Harry Skelton sat motionless in the saddle of Nube Negra. The duo hit the front approaching the penultimate fence, and Altior's late rally was only good enough for second.

That was the first time Altior had been beaten in a two-mile chase. The ten-year-olds only previous defeat came in the 1965 Chase over two-and-half-miles last December, where he was beaten by Cyrname in a real slug-fest on heavy ground.

Following Sunday's defeat, though, Henderson has again admitted that his aging star may need further than the minimum distance, which brings a race like the Ryanair Chase firmly into the equation. 

"It looked on Sunday for all the world that he needed two and a half (miles)." Henderson told the Racing Post.

"He finished his race very well, which was encouraging. If you took Nube Negra out of that race, Altior beat Duc Des Genievres by nearly five lengths giving him 6lb and going away from him at the end. You'd have said that was a bloody good performance, although the winner was there."

"I haven't really thought about the Ryanair, but I haven't put him in the Clarence House because that would come too quick. He wouldn't want that, but I'll talk to the Pughs. We haven't discussed it and will try to get to the bottom of it."

Altior (right) stayed on to finish second behind Nube Negra (left) in the Desert Orchid Chase. (Getty)

Unibet still have Altior quoted at 20/1 in their market for the 2021 Ryanair Chase, compared to 12/1 for the Champion Chase, which Altior has already won twice. Whether the team will go down the Ryanair route is still just speculation, but it's certainly an intriguing possibility.

With the likes of Epatante and Santini also underperforming over Christmas, Henderson announced on Monday that his string was all under observation. Initial suggests that Seven Barrows would go into a complete lockdown were quashed by Henderson, though, and he seemed confident his stars would be back to their best.

"Altior was very bright and sparky in himself this morning. I'm not too worried about Altior and Epatante; they'll be all right, I'm sure they will."

"We'll just keep working away but we're not shutting the yard, I can assure you. We worked lots of horses this morning, but I am going to go quietly while this weather is like this – it's a good time anyway as they've all got to have a flu jab at this time of year."

"The ground is filthy everywhere. There are only two going descriptions, heavy and abandoned. We might have a couple at Sandown, but it's more the races not particularly suiting us. We'll just go quietly and won't have a million runners in the next fortnight."

*2021 Champion Chase (16/3/21) betting with Unibet*
11/8 Chacun Pour Soi, 11/2 Politologue, 10/1 Nube Negra, 12/1 Altior, 20/1 Bar

*2021 Ryanair Chase (17/3/21) betting with Unibet*
5/1 Imperial Aura, 6/1 Min, 8/1 Melon, 10/1 A Plus Tard, 12/1 Allaho, Saint Calvados, 14/1 Bar

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