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Altior v Cyrname: Henderson star back to his best for possible Celebration clash

Altior has recovered from Cheltenham and is ready to be aimed at a record-breaking 19th straight win over jumps at Sandown on Saturday – where a clash with the highest-rated horse in Britain and Ireland is still on after Cyrname was also among the 12 entries for the bet365 Celebration Chase.

Altior's trainer Nicky Henderson said he will unleash his two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner as long as the ground at Sandown is not too quick after the Easter heatwave.

With at least good ground predicted, that heightens the likelihood of a clash between the two highest-rated chasers in Britain and Ireland.

Altior missed a date at Aintree earlier this month but Henderson now feels he has his champion back to his best as he looks for a third win in Sandown's Grade 1.

He said: "He didn't quite bounce back from Cheltenham, a bit like last year. Nico [de Boinville] said he felt a little bit flat when he sat on him before Aintree.

"But certainly in the last ten days he has shown he is recovered and ready," added Henderson ominously for his rivals.

Altior equalled the record for most consecutive wins over jumps – joining legendary staying hurdler Big Buck’s – when registering his 18th straight success in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

As to the pressure of standing on the threshold of the record, Henderson said: "They have got to get beaten some time so we will see.

"Cyrname is a very good horse, obviously, but Altior has shown he is back in very good form in the last ten days." 

As well as the Celebration Chase, over two miles, Cyrname, the winner of the Ascot Chase for trainer Paul Nicholls, has been entered in the longer Oaksey Chase over 2m6f on the same card.

His participation depends on the ground easing at Sandown, which on Tuesday was good on the jumps track after three weeks of watering. Unsettled weather is forecast for the remainder of the week.

San Benedeto and God's Own, second and third to Atior in the race last year, and Sceau Royal are also among the Celebration Chase entries.

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