A look back at some of Altior’s greatest moments
There was a great sense of sadness amongst National Hunt racing’s huge following when Nicky Henderson revealed that the tough decision had been made to retire the legendary Altior ahead of the upcoming jumps season. After winning 21 of his 26 career races, including an impressive 19-race winning streak, the 11-year-old, who often heavily backed in the horse racing tips, will go down in horse racing folklore as a true great.
“His owners Christopher and Pat Pugh feel that now he is 11, turning 12, they would like him to retire while still at his peak – fit, sound and healthy and ready for a new career,” trainer Henderson said. “He goes out unblemished and very nearly unbeaten.”
He undoubtedly heads for a peaceful retirement having given the jumps racing community some fantastic memories. So, without further ado, let’s take a look back at some of Altior’s greatest moments. Read on to find out more!
2016: First Cheltenham Festival victory – Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Five outings into that mammoth 19-race unbeaten streak, Altior landed his first victory at the Cheltenham Festival. Second favourite for the two-mile, half-a-furlong Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, behind Willie Mullins’ Min, Altior travelled and jumped fantastically over the old course at Prestbury Park, with Nico de Boinville riding him into the lead before the last of the eight hurdles and streaking clear up the home straight to win by seven-lengths clear of Ruby Walsh and Min — who would go on to lose many a race to the Henderson-trained horse.
2017: Maiden Celebration Chase victory
After winning the 2017 renewal of the Arkle Challenge Trophy, beating Cloudy Dream by six lengths in the Grade 1 race, Altior followed that up with a maiden victory in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase at Sandown. Up against Special Tiara, who had just won the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and still a novice, Altior was given generous odds of 10/3 and the punters would have been rubbing their hands with glee as the Henderson-trained horse led over the final two fences and stormed clear of the Henry de Bromhead-trained Champion Chase winner to win by some eight lengths.
2018: First Queen Mother Champion Chase triumph
In 2018, Altior made it three successive victories at the Cheltenham Festival when he won the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2018. Up against Min again, the then eight-year-old was being pushed along around the 10th hurdle mark. However, when switched right by de Boinville two hurdles out from the finish, he shot into the lead soon after the last, forging clear of the Mullins-trained mare and jockey Walsh went on to win the prestigious two-mile race by another seven lengths.
2019: Back-to-back Champion Chase victories at Cheltenham
The 2019 edition of the Champion Chase certainly wasn’t one of Altior’s finest runs, but the fact he overcame several obstacles to still win the Grade 1 race was credit to his immense ability. Now nine years of age, he jumped slightly left at times throughout the race, and made a mistake at the seventh hurdle when tracking the leader. However, he led three out from the finish, and despite the likes of Politologue and Sceau Royal closing the gap at the last, he asserted his dominance in the final 100yards to beat the former by almost two lengths.