By Andrew Atkinson racing correspondent

ALTIOR is set to miss the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day – due to being ‘a bit flat’.

“Nico de Boinville rode Altior last weekend, and although it wasn’t as if he didn’t work well – it was satisfactory – he said he felt a bit flat and wasn’t doing his normal mojo,” said trainer Nicky Henderson.

Nine-year-old Altior suffered his first defeat in 20 races, second to Cyrname in the 1965 Chase at Ascot in November.

“We don’t want to put him into another fierce battle – because we might undo everything,” said Henderson.

“We’ve still got lots to consider – he’ll tell us when he wants to come back,” quipped Henderson.

Henderson says Altior will have to keep working: “If he finds his wings have suddenly sprouted again, then who knows?,” said Henderson.

“We wanted to run in the King George, and it’s disappointing. His work wasn’t disappointing – but Nico’s feel from him wasn’t what we wanted,” said Henderson.

On Altior’s defeat against Cyrname, Henderson said: “He hasn’t got over it – he had a hard race – and was very tired. Nico said he hadn’t got over it.”

Altior could run in the Ladbrokes Grade 2 £100,000 Desert Orchid Chase, at Kempton Park on December 27: “I would rule nothing out. We’ve lots to think about,” said Henderson.

“If you throw him into a King George you know you’re getting a hard race. I’m not going to abuse him.

“I’m going to have to leave everything open – and the Desert Orchid is not a complete impossibility,” said Henderson.

Altior has a scheduled 2020 Cheltenham Festival pencilled in, reverting to hurdles, in the Unibet Champion Hurdle in March.