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Monday, 10 December, 2018

No Aintree for Altior as Henderson decides to wait for the Celebration Chase

Altior was a devastating winner of last year's Celebration Chase
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Altior will bypass Friday's Grade 1 JLT Melling Chase at Aintree and instead be targeted at the bet365 Celebration Chase on the final day of the 2017-18 jumps season at Sandown.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase winner's trainer Nicky Henderson said in a statement on Sunday: "We have decided that Altior will not run at Aintree in the Melling Chase on Friday and instead head to Sandown for the Celebration Chase, which he won last year. 

"I would have loved to have tried him over two and a half miles [in the Melling Chase], and it was a real temptation, but we've got another Grade 1 in a fortnight's time around a track he likes and, as we can't do both we will wait."

Altior returned from wind surgery to capture the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, finishing the race with his customary strong surge to the line.

Watch Altior's Champion Chase success

However, Henderson, and jockey Nico de Boinville, believe giving the eight-year-old extra time before his next race will be better for him.

Henderson said: "He's done one good piece of work and schooled once since Cheltenham and everything has been absolutely brilliant. But no horse had an easy race at Cheltenham on that ground so we might as well do the sensible thing and make full use of the extra time we've got.

"The first words Nico said to me when he got off after the Champion Chase were, 'He's had a tough race today'. So we all feel the extra two weeks will freshen him up a little more."

Altior after his Champion Chase victory. He had a hard race according to Nicky Henderson

With Altior out of the way, Politologue, who stumbled and fell when booked for victory in the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree last season, is likely to contest the Melling Chase instead of the Celebration Chase, according to his trainer Paul Nicholls.

While Altior will not form part of champion trainer Henderson’s star squad, Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Might Bite will take part in Thursday's Betway Bowl at Aintree.

Henderson added: "Might Bite is certainly telling us that he has come out of Cheltenham extremely well and, barring incident, he definitely goes to Aintree.

"He’s working very well and his schooling has been great. He's been out this morning and says, in horse language, he's very well."

Might Bite: has come out of Cheltenham "extremely well"

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We have decided that Altior will not run at Aintree in the Melling Chase on Friday

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