Altior set for Game Spirit as Ar Mad misses Cheltenham

Altior: unbeaten over fences and hot favourite for the Racing Post Arkle

PICTURE: Getty Images Altior set for Game Spirit
as Ar Mad misses festival By Peter Scargill 12:00PM 7 FEB 2017

ALTIOR, the favourite for the Racing Post Arkle, is set to step out of novice company for the first time in the Grade 2 Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury on Saturday as the finishing touches are put to his Cheltenham Festival preparation.

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However, plans have been scrapped to run Ar Mad at the festival this year and he will instead head to either Aintree or Punchestown after being taken out of the Betfair Ascot Chase next weekend.

Impressive and unbeaten in three starts over fences, Altior is the 1-2 favourite for the Racing Post Arkle and is among the hottest favourites for the festival following the withdrawal of main market rival Min due to injury.

There were a total of seven entries for the Betfair Exchange Chase, better known as the Game Spirit Chase, after the race was reopened on Monday having failed to attract the minimum ten entries.

Altior's rivals could include former Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets, Fox Norton, second favourite for this year's Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, Garde La Victoire, Gino Trail and Module.

Moore plans

Traffic Fluide is also a likely opponent, and trainer Gary Moore said: "He hasn't run since last year's Clarence House, but seems in really good order and I'm looking forward to seeing him back on a racecourse.

"People keep asking me about his possible Cheltenham target and the truth is that we will learn a lot more on Saturday."

Writing in his Betway blog, Moore added of Ar Mad: "Even though he is coming along nicely, the Cheltenham Festival is going to come too soon and it looks almost certain that we will head straight to Aintree or Punchestown instead. There is simply no point rushing him back too quickly and you just can't go to Cheltenham undercooked."

Ar Mad had been a 16-1 chance for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and 25-1 for the Ryanair Chase.

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