Horse RacingJump Racing

Nicky Henderson: “Champ will go for the Game Spirit as Altior heads straight to Cheltenham”

February 14, 2021January 7th, 2022

FIRST of all I would like to say thank you to Newbury, the sponsors, the BHA and ITV for rearranging yesterday’s Super Saturday card. They have done a fantastic job under difficult conditions and we are keen to support the meeting as best as we can so with that in mind the intention is still for Buzz and Mister Coffey to take their chance in the valuable handicap Hurdle all being well. That has been the plan and they are both in good form and I’m looking forward to the race.

With regards to Altior and Champ, under the current circumstances and having discussed the situation in detail with all owners involved, we have come to the conclusion that Altior will head straight to the Cheltenham Festival without a run beforehand. He is in excellent form and I’m looking forward to continuing his preparation following a quiet week due to frost.

However, we have decided to change things around with Champ, very much for the same reason and our close proximity to the Festival. Champ will now drop back down to two miles and contest the Game Spirit Chase instead of the Denman Chase. He hasn’t run for a year so we could be in danger that three miles may be slightly too far for his first run of the season. He is a fresh horse and can be quite free in his races so it would be harder to curtail enthusiasm and you’re never going to take as much out over two miles as you are over three (miles). He could be keen and do too much so in the interest of the Gold Cup being his ultimate goal it is preferable to run over a shorter distance which could stop him having a harder race than necessary and also help eliminate the risk of the bounce factor.