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Monday, 22 October, 2018

Arkle favourite could be the superstar to lift Henderson's spirits

Altior: poised to make chasing debut at Kempton on Monday
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Nicky Henderson believes unbeaten jumper Altior could be the yard’s next superstar and heir to retiring two-mile champion Sprinter Sacre and the late Simonsig.

Last year's winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, who won all five starts over hurdles, is on course to make his chasing debut at Kempton on Monday.

And after a weekend in which the stable had to come to terms with the retirement of the superstar Sprinter Sacre, the death of Simonsig and sidelining by injury of number-one jockey Nico de Boinville, Altior could be the horse to lift spirits.

Altior is a top-priced 3-1 favourite for next March's Racing Post Arkle Trophy, and when his trainer was asked on Tuesday if he could be the successor to two of the yard's most illustrious campaigners, Henderson said: "I am hopeful."

He added: "Altior is very, very good. At this stage he's got the raw talent to be everything but it has all got to come together. We did school him over fences last week and I very nearly ran him at Cheltenham. Nico was keen that we didn't.

"The one thing the schooling did tell me was we have got to be right going down the chasing road. I mean he was brilliant and if he continues doing that I know we have done the right thing.

"If he gets it wrong we can switch back to hurdles but I don't want to. Running at Kempton on Monday gives him a chance to go there and then Sandown the following Saturday week."

Henderson said the loss of Simonsig, who was fatally injured in the Shloer Chase on Sunday, had not just been felt among staff at the yard but possibly by one of his horses, Triolo D'Alene, who shared the same box with the grey.

He added: "If he gets it wrong we can switch back to hurdles but I don't want to. Running at Kempton on Monday gives him a chance to go there and then Sandown the following Saturday week."Henderson said the loss of Simonsig, who was fatally injured in the Shloer Chase on Sunday, had not just been felt among staff at the yard but possibly by one of his horses, Triolo D'Alene, who shared the same box with the grey.

Triolo D'Alene, the 2013 Hennessy Gold Cup winner, worked at Newbury on Tuesday with fellow race contender Vyta Du Roc ahead of another crack at the prize and initial signs were encouraging.

"They lived together," said the trainer "Triolo would know when the horsebox was coming back. They would whinny for each other and he'd be expecting Simonsig to come back with him.

"You couldn't help feeling it would affect him but he worked well this morning so maybe he's got over it too. I'm probably getting stupidly sentimental but those two horses did everything together."

Vyta Du Roc, third on his reappearance at Aintree last month, was yesterday clipped into a top-priced 14-1 (from 20) for the Hennessy on Saturday week, for which Triolo D’Alene is a general 33-1 chance.

Steering clear of Thistlecrack
Henderson has yet to map out a route for O O Seven, who made an impressive winning debut over fences at Cheltenham on Friday, other than to keep him away from Thistlecrack, who is pencilled to run at Newbury next week.

The trainer said: "O O Seven has always been very good and he was excellent at Cheltenham. The obvious thing is to try to avoid Thistlecrack because you'd think he's going to end up in the Feltham, which might be the obvious race for O O Seven. There's not much point having a head-to-head with him at this stage.

"I was going to come to Newbury with Different Gravey so I will have to reroute him too. I don't want him coming up against Thistlecrack first time."

He's very, very good. At this stage he's got the raw talent to be everything

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