GBI RACING

Nicky Henderson wary of Min challenge to Altior in Champion Chase

Altior Nicky Henderson is full respect for the threat posed by Min and others to red-hot favourite Altior in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.
News emerged on Sunday that Douvan is likely to miss the two-mile championship in favour of the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, but his trainer Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci can still call on Min, who was a Grade One winner last time out at Leopardstown.
Henderson and Altior have prior experience of Min, having beaten the Mullins runner in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle of 2016.
The Seven Barrows trainer told At The Races:"I think when we went into that Supreme, the previous few years we always knew we were walking into trouble (against the likes of Vautour and Faugheen), we met it and got beaten.
"That year when Altior and Min met, I have to admit I was quite confident. Altior was that little bit special, I think. I won't say we haven't had an easy run in this year, only we had to stop and have a wind operation. Since that, he was very good at Newbury and we have had a good run-in now.
"Min looked very good as a novice and looked very good on his last start over fences, so he's setting it up. It's Min we're going to meet instead of Douvan, obviously that's going to be decided, but there's others in the race, too, don't forget them.
"It's not a two-horse race, it never is. It's going to be a very exciting clash."
Looking back to Altior's Arkle Trophy success last year, Henderson said:"From the last last year, he went right away. I think he does stay well, I have no intention of going further than two and a half miles. Softish ground worries me a little bit, and of course Min does - I'm frightened of everybody.
"It's going to be fun, it's got to be, otherwise we wouldn't be doing it."
Ricci: "I do believe Min has improved for fences, he's had a good season. You could argue he is unbeaten, but I also think Altior has also improved immensely. He was very impressive at Newbury.
"His connections are lovely, nice people and I think the horse will be very hard to beat, he could be something really, really special. But we'll give it a go."

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