Nicky Henderson reports that Altior returned an unsatisfactory range following his shock loss to Kempton.
The 10-year-old was beaten by three and a half lengths by a 20-1 Nube Negra shot on his seasonal arc in Sunday’s Desert Orchid Chase, struggling from the start despite being sent off from everyone’s favorite.
Henderson was quick to point out his faith in two-time hero Champion Chase after the race, and it looks like there may have been an excuse for his performance.
The trainer told Nick Luck’s daily podcast: “We had him spotted (after the race) – we can’t spot him today because it’s a holiday and the lab is closed, but we have reasons to continue to investigate this.
“There was evidence (of a dirty glasses). I spoke to (vet) Simon Knapp last night – he confirmed there was, and we need to do a tracheal wash, which then goes in the lab I wouldn’t be surprised if we find something wrong.
“It’s certainly not normal, because it was scoped on Christmas Eve and we know it was 100% clean, but 48 hours is a long time in a horse’s life.
“That would be enough (to affect his performance) – that would be Simon Knapp’s opinion anyway.”
Henderson plans to briefly relax with some of his rope to make sure everyone is in great shape as the season progresses into the New Year.
“We have a couple of horses that aren’t quite doing well,” he says.
“I have five runners tomorrow and then I think I have two more this week – (so) we’re going to have a quiet time, and I think I could leave them alone this week.
“The ground is desperate, and I know we have Sandown this weekend – but when Sandown is heavy it’s a whole different kind of heavy. I don’t blame the soil at all yesterday, I just say thank God we didn’t point it to Sandown (in the Tingle Creek Chase in early December). “
Henderson also suffered a surprise setback at Kempton on Boxing Day when reigning hurdler Epatante was beaten by Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle.
The Seven Barrows manager suspects there was a reason for her below-par run, but believes she and Altior are able to make amends when their issues are resolved.
He added: “I don’t think it’s the same (problem with Amazing) – I think something else is going to happen there, and I’m having ideas. It wasn’t her, and we know it wasn’t her. (If she was in season) is under investigation.
“I would be surprised if Epatante showed up again before Cheltenham – she didn’t last year, and I see no reason to direct her again.
“I’m perfectly happy with these two horses that I have good reason to believe there are reasons behind it – and with a little luck and some wind down we can put them back into action.”