Altior will miss Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after his trainer Nicky Henderson reported that the chaser had returned an unsatisfactory scope after working on Monday morning.
Henderson tweeted on Monday: “We are very sorry that we have taken the difficult decision not to run Altior in the Champion Chase on Wednesday.
“He coughed after exercise this morning which caused us to scope him and as a result of what we have seen it would not be sensible to run him.
“This is devastating for all of us, and Pat and Christopher Pugh in particular, in that this is the second year running we have had to pull him out at the last minute.”
News also came through on Monday morning that the popular Annie Mc had been ruled out of Friday’s Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase.
Simon Clare, representing owners Coral Champions Club, told the Racing Post: “Unfortunately Annie Mc has had a setback and will miss the festival. Fortunately it’s not a serious issue and she could still run again this season. Cheltenham has just come a week too soon.
“We are naturally disappointed but she’s been an absolute star for us, and there will be more big days ahead for her.”
Meanwhile, the going at Cheltenham has eased following unexpected rainfall of 10 millimetres overnight. While a dry week is expected, the official description is now soft, good to soft in places for the start of the Festival.
Both the Old Course, used on the first two days, and the New Course which comes into use on Thursday and Friday, are described the same following the rain.
Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said at 8.30am on Monday: “It was unexpected, yes. No forecast I’d seen suggested more than one or two millimetres last night, and we ended up with just over 10. We’ve now gone soft, good to soft in places on all the courses.
“We’re not forecast particularly warm weather – although having said that, the forecast temperatures have gone up a little during the week to what they were earlier. We’ll just have to see how things pan out [whether any watering will take place later in the week]. It’s too early to speculate.”