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Local interest for Cheltenham Festival's Wednesday/Day Two - but first rain and then Altior are headline news

Altior at Henderson's Seven Barrows yardAltior at Henderson's Seven Barrows yardCheltenham got a little more rain on Monday and more is expected during the week.  So the talk is all about the going.  Until, that is, news came in that Altior had suffered a setback.

 

The headline grabber on day two of the Festival should, of course, be the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase duel between Nicky Henderson's Altior (Nico de Boinville) and Willie Mullins' Douvan Ruby Walsh.)  The other Mullins entry Min (Paul Townend) making it a chance to see three of racing's best chasers in the nine horse field.

But on Monday Henderson reported Altior, who is unbeaten over fences, and odds-on favourite with most firms, was found to be lame.

Henderson announced: "Altior was unfortunately lame this morning in his near fore leg...He was still able to exercise in the water treadmill this morning, which he regularly does anyway, and a poultice will now be applied and left on overnight to draw out the pus [found in his foot.]"

Henderson is still hopeful Altior will be fit to run on Wednesday,

Monday's declarations shows the shake out for Wednesday's Coral Cup leaving Alan King's six entries reduced to three:  River Frost (Barry Geraghty), Dusky Legend (Wayne Hutchinson) and Bastien (Tom Cannon) - the latter defying expectations by not going for Friday's Martin Pipe.

Emma Lavelle's Flemcara will be ridden inn the Coral Cup by stable conditional jockey Patrick Cowley. He had a hat trick of wins with the six year-old gelding at Worcester, Exeter and Chepstow, before finding it hard going at Sandown on February 3 coming home ninth in the field of 17.

Emma Lavelle also has Full Irish (Leighton Aspell) declared for the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase - up against a strong field with Paul Nicholls' Black Corton (Bryony Frost) probably the punters' favourite.

Alan King also has Lisp (Wayne Hutchinson) in the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Fergal O'Brien, who trains very close to Cheltenham Racecourse and is one of the season's great success stories, reacted to the rain with a tweet: "Does the weather mean we’re changing running plans? Yes.  Are we disappointed? A bit. Anything anyone could have done about it? Absolutely not."

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