Altior misses Open meeting as Henderson waits for Kempton
Altior is set to sidestep Cheltenham on Sunday and make his hotly anticipated chase debut at Kempton on Monday week instead.
The Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner was in the Grade 2 Racing Post Arkle Trial but his trainer Nicky Henderson, who sent out O O Seven to win first time out over fences at Cheltenham on Friday, said he would not take up the engagement.
Henderson said: "Altior will not run on Sunday. Instead he'll go to Kempton ahead of a possible tilt at the Henry VIII at Sandown.
"He hasn't done anything like as much schooling as O O Seven has had, so I thought we would go to Kempton for a little doodle around there."
Six have been declared for the Cheltenham race, and Henderson will still have a runner, Hammersly Lake.
Winter Escape will face 16 rivals when he bids to stretch his unbeaten run to four in tomorrow's £100,000 StanJames.com Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
There were no surprises at yesterday's 48-hour declaration stage, and the five-year-old remains a warm favourite at a general 11-4 to give JP McManus a first win in the race since the ill-fated Lingo scored in 2005, and Alan King a first ever success. He was widely available at double figures when the Greatwood was first priced up.
A strengthened card for the third day opens with a rematch between Champion Bumper winners Moon Racer and Ballyandy, who were separated by only three-quarters of a length when they made their hurdling debuts at Perth in September. They meet in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle.
Sprinter Sacre stole the day 12 months ago when bouncing back to form in the Shloer Chase, and Nicky Henderson is hoping for a similar outcome when his fragile former dual festival winner Simonsig bids to get his career back on track in what looks a competitive renewal.