Altior retired: Nicky Henderson announces end of racing career for two-time Champion Chase winner

Altior won the 2018 and 2019 Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, earning a career-high rating of 175; 11-year-old will now be looked after by Sky Sports Racing presenter Mick Fitzgerald; Nicky Henderson says star is "sound, healthy and ready for a new career"

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Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies says legendary chaser Altior will be much missed after being retired at the age of 11

Dual Champion Chase winner Altior has been retired at the age of 11, trainer Nicky Henderson has confirmed.

A true jump racing great, Altior won 19 in a row, including the 2018 and 2019 Champion Chase, on his way to becoming the highest rated horse in training, with a peak rating of 175.

He bows out having won 21 of his 26 career starts, including ten Grade One races and four victories at the Cheltenham Festival.

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Announcing the news on his UniBet blog, Henderson said Altior's owners - Christopher and Pat Pugh - have decided to call time on his racing career while he is "fit, sound and healthy".

He will now be looked after by former jockey and Sky Sports Racing presenter Mick Fitzgerald.

Altior wins his second Champion Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival
Image: Altior wins his second Champion Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

"We are all sad to have to say that Altior is going into honorary retirement after what has been a fantastic innings which was obviously highlighted by his 19 consecutive victories," Henderson wrote.

"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.

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"It's a very tough decision to make, but I am pretty sure he has enjoyed every moment of it as much as we all have.

"He goes out unblemished and very nearly unbeaten, and for his retirement he is going to be looked after by Mick and Chloe Fitzgerald and I know they are as happy as we are that he is going to have a long and happy retirement with them just two miles down the road from us.

Altior career stats

Career wins - 21

Grade One wins - 10

Cheltenham Festival wins - 4

Prize money - £1.26m

"All good things must come to an end and unfortunately that time has come. It is the end of a wonderful era we will never, ever want to forget."

In a joint statement, Christopher and Pat Pugh added: "Altior is a once in a generation horse and Chris and I are so fortunate to have been a part of his life since 2013.

"We thank the brilliant team at Seven Barrows, the genius Nicky Henderson and of course all the wonderful race goers who have supported Altior throughout his career.

"We could not wish for a better place for Altior's retirement than a home with Mick and Chloe Fitzgerald."

Fitzgerald said: "It's an absolute honour to have a horse who has done as much as he has and I've followed his career all the way through and am delighted that he is now going to be part of our family.

"We are going to get him to our place, let him settle in and just see how we get on.

"There are no plans whatsoever, we're just going to let him tell us what he likes doing and take it from there but one thing I can guarantee is he's going to have a very nice time."

Twiston-Davies: Altior a pleasure to watch

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies was defeated by Altior on many occasions, but admits most riders would cheer on the champion if they were not up against him.

"I'd say there were plenty of us in the weighing room who chased him round," Twiston-Davies told Sky Sports Racing.

"He's been an amazing horse. It's always sad to hear but it's great to hear he's going out after so many great days. He'll be much missed by a lot of jockeys.

"Even when you weren't riding against him he was a pleasure to watch, the way he went about things, travelled and jumped.

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"You'd watch him in some of those races at Cheltenham and Nico [de Boinville] would give him a kick and off he'd go.

"If you weren't riding in the race, you'd be cheering him on. If you were riding against him, you'd be thinking of any way to beat him and we tried everything but never could."

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