'Fine' Altior to run again before Cheltenham Festival with Ryanair and Champion Chase options for Nicky Henderson star

ALTIOR has been given two big-race options at the Cheltenham Festival by trainer Nicky Henderson.

The four-time Festival winner will run again before March, with his trainer reporting him to be 'fine' after his recent defeat at Kempton.

Henderson had his star looked over by the vets and given a full MOT following his second-placed effort to Nube Negra in the Desert Orchid Chase.

Altior could run at Newbury in the Game Spirit next. But with stable star Shishkin also pencilled in for that date, Henderson may look elsewhere.

And he's not scared of trying him over a longer trip, as the entry in the Ryanair suggests.

Altior is as big as 20-1 for the Ryanair, and a general 10-1 chance for the Champion Chase, a race he was won twice.

The trainer told his Unibet blog: "Altior is fine and there is nothing else to report except to say he will most certainly not be retired and you didn’t see the real him the other day.

"He’s probably getting to that stage where he may be losing a bit of that speed that has always been so potent but the way he jumps at home you’d have no reason to think he’s slowing down – he’s still like a rocket.

"We've given him an entry in the Champion Chase and the Ryanair. We have the option of both and can decide nearer the time."

Henderson had a quiet spell after Christmas, mainly due to the winter ground found on most courses.

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But he's set to send out his first big guns since, with the likes of Call Me Lord and On The Blind Side declared at Kempton on Saturday.

However, all three ITV meetings at Wincanton, Exeter and Kempton must ALL pass early morning inspections due to the freezing temperatures.

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