Image reproduced with the kind permission of Sandown Park Racecourse

Nicky Henderson has issued an upbeat bulletin on Altior as he stepped up his preparations for a return to action.

Last year’s star two-mile novice has yet to run this season after undergoing a breathing operation in November, but the eight-year-old remains on course for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The Seven Barrows handler has upped Altior’s work regime in recent days and reports all to be going well.

Henderson said: “He did more than gallop. He went a mile and a bit up the grass and everything was first class. Everything was 100 per cent this morning with him.”

Henderson also had news of leading Supreme Novices’ Hurdle hope Claimantakinforgan, who bypassed a possible option at Haydock on Saturday with a trip to Musselburgh for next month’s bet365 Scottish Cheltenham Trials Weekend an alternative engagement.

He said: “I wouldn’t be ruling out Musselburgh or something like that by taking a juvenile up there with him.

“He wants to run before Cheltenham on better ground. I wouldn’t ask him to go in that Haydock ground.

“We were in the Tolworth and we saw what that did to two or three horses. Their game isn’t over, but you wouldn’t want to be coming in off the back of that.

“A couple of bubbles got horribly burst because of the ground at Sandown.

“We didn’t go to Sandown because of the ground, and there didn’t seem a lot of point going to Haydock with him.”