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Altior back over two miles at Kempton on Friday

Mon 23rd Dec 2019, 18:14

© Photo Healy Racing

Altior is firmly on course to defend his crown in the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on Friday.

The Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old was stepped up in distance this season with the primary objective of being aimed at the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

However, he suffered his first defeat in 20 starts over jumps when runner-up to Cyrname at Ascot last month — and Henderson subsequently ruled out a tilt at the King George following an unsatisfactory workout on December 14.

The Seven Barrows handler has been more encouraged by his recent performances on the Lambourn gallops, though, and he will return to the two-mile distance over which he has dominated for this latest assignment.

Henderson said: “The ground at Kempton will be better than most places and that’s why we are going there.

“Nico (de Boinville) was not happy with him the other weekend, but he was happy with his work this weekend and he schooled phenomenally during the week.

“I’m pleased with him now and hopefully we can get him back on track.”