Altior scares Kempton rivals away

Altior, ante-post favourite for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, faces just one rival when he makes his chasing debut at Kempton on Monday.

Altior on his way to victory in the Sky Bet Supreme.

Nicky Henderson's six-year-old was a sparkling winner of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival in March, beating Willie Mullins' much-vaunted Min by seven lengths.

He heads over bigger obstacles after a perfect five-from-five season over timber, and it is mildly surprising Henderson has not been tempted to have at least one crack at a big hurdling prize.

However, the Seven Barrows handler has always viewed Altior as a chaser.

With stable jockey Nico de Boinville sidelined with a broken arm, Noel Fehily has been given the ride until his regular partner returns.

Henderson said: "Everything has been very good. Noel Fehily came in and rode him on Thursday and Altior was fine, but now he has got to go do it on the racecourse.

"At the moment, I am not regretting the decision to go down the chasing route.

"He will be there for all to see on Monday and people can then make their own judgement.

"Noel will step in for a couple of races then Nico will have him back. We will see how he goes at Kempton. After that we may look at the Henry VIII at Sandown."

Altior only faces one opponent in the Weatherbys Supports Starlight Novices' Chase, but Black Corton should prove far from a pushover, having won three times over hurdles, including a Listed race at Kempton in October, for Paul Nicholls.

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