Altior leads the way at Ascot

Altior set for step up to three miles confirms Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson has confirmed Altior will try three miles this season after chalking up a sequence of 19 wins over shorter distances.

The nine-year-old has dominated the two-mile division in recent campaigns - but connections are now ready to tackle a longer trip with their charge, whose winning run includes 14 starts over fences to date.

The King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day is the obvious objective in the fist half of the season.

In a stable tour on, Henderson said: "Well what more can you say about him he has done it all and keeps doing it. The question is what we do next and find out if three miles is within his reach.

"If we start off back in the Tingle Creek it wouldn't necessarily be the best way into the King George. I am not that keen on the Betfair Chase and the best option may well be the Ascot Chase.

"Everything has gone smoothly for Altior and we recauterised his palate this summer which was purely precautionary as he hadn't had it done for two years. Nico (de Boinville) is adamant he wants another half a mile so let's find out."

Henderson has his fingers crossed Might Bite's problems are behind him and is hoping the 2017 King George winner and Gold Cup second can have a clear run.

"It simply didn't happen for him last season for whatever reason," he said.

"We have done everything we can with him and taken every nut and bolt off and given him a thorough MOT and we just have to hope we can do a Sprinter Sacre with him.

"He has come back from his summer break exceptionally well and we might give him a confidence booster in a hurdle race before going back chasing."

Santini is another potential Gold Cup contender for the Henderson team.

"He had dreadful preparation before Cheltenham with a foot problem and despite that ran a blinder to be beaten only half a length by Topofthegame in the RSA," he said.

"We purposely put him away after that and we think this season could be very exciting for him. He is still a young horse with enormous potential, and we are hoping he could develop into a Gold Cup horse."

Henderson is planning a familiar route for Buveur D'Air with a third Champion Hurdle success the ultimate target.

"He will start in the Fighting Fifth hurdle at Newcastle which he has won for the past two years," he said.

"He sadly couldn't win a third Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham when falling at the third but when you hurdle like he does the margin for error is very small.

"He still didn't have a bad season as he went on to win the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and he has come back from his summer break looking fantastic."

Triumph Hurdle hero Pentland Hills is another classy sort Henderson can look forward to.

"He didn't see the racecourse for us until February but won very comfortably at Plumpton in a race we had used for First Bout," he said.

"It was a brave move to go for the JCB (Triumph) but fortunately it paid off and he won well, and he then followed up at Aintree.

"We will see how far he can go over hurdles and the International at Cheltenham would be a target, but he could have a run on the Flat beforehand."

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