Henderson: Altior must show what he can do
Nicky Henderson insists Altior must deliver the performance that is expected of him if he is to land the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
Although the seven-year-old is long odds-on to extend his unbeaten run to 10 races and make it five out of five over fences in the two-mile test, the Seven Barrows handler has warned he is not taking anything for granted.
Having conquered all before him over hurdles last season, culminating with victory in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the Patricia Pugh-owned gelding has had little problem in transferring that ability to fences since making a winning debut at Kempton in November.
After collecting a Grade One on his second start over the larger obstacles, Altior has subsequently landed a pair of Grade Two events, the most recent when stepping out of novice company to register a facile success in the Game Spirit at Newbury last month.
Henderson said: "Everything has gone how we wanted it to go. The form book says, yes, he should win, but they still have to go and jump round, as all sorts of things can happen.
"I was very confident about Altior at this time last year. I think he has transferred his ability to chasing and not made many mistakes.
"The one nice thing is that he has learnt from his two mistakes in four runs - he has done everything right.
"He has been around Cheltenham before as he won the Supreme last year and he was very good around Sandown over fences.
"For everybody's perception of him, if he doesn't win it is going to be disappointing and that doesn't happen very often at Cheltenham, as you have got to hope you win whereas in these circumstances he should be winning.
"He is very talented and has been very good so far.
"Only a good performance will satisfy everybody, as he is expected to win. It might sound like a good position to be in, but it is not that easy. You would nearly rather be hopeful that they can win, rather than thinking they have to win."