Altior Retired - Star Chaser's Top Three Performances
- Nicky Henderson announced Altior has been retired yesterday
- Altior won ten Grade Ones during his career and four times at the Cheltenham Festival
- We look back on his career and list his top three finest performances
Altior winning his final race at Newbury in 2020. (Getty)
The racing world rose as one on Tuesday to applaud Altior, after trainer Nicky Henderson announced his eleven-year-old had been retired.
Altior will forever be remembered as one of horse racing's finest. The son of High Chaparral won his first 19 races under rules, a run that included four victories at the Cheltenham Festival. Injury blighted the last couple of years of Altior's career, but anyone who watched Henderson's star in his pomp will never forget his incredible achievements.
"It is very sad to be saying goodbye." Henderson told the press on Tuesday. "It's been a wonderful journey, but he's going out at the top and ran a wonderful race at the end of last season in the Celebration Chase at Sandown, never flinching and running his heart out."
"Altior was very, very special and although his record of 19 out of 19 victories will be beaten one day it was a fantastic feat and it was simply luck that deserted him, with a splint and a cough at critical moments preventing him from achieving even more."
Altior won ten Grade Ones during his glittering career, earning connections almost £1.5m in prize money. Although there were plenty of amazing performances to choose from, here are the three that we feel stand out above the rest.
Altior's Best Performances
3) 2017 Celebration Chase at Sandown
At the end of his novice chasing campaign, Altior took on his elders in the Celebration Chase. Nico De Boinville's mount squared off against Special Tiara, that year's Champion Chaser, and San Benedetto, who'd claimed Grade One glory at Aintree just weeks earlier.
Sandown Park, with its fearsome railway fences along the back straight, is regarded as a tricky track for debutantes to handle. Altior, however, passed the test with flying colours.
De Boinville travelled comfortably behind Special Tiara, and once they pulled upsides the leader, it took just a flick of the reigns for the odds-on favourite to establish an eight-length lead. That day, Altior was simply unstoppable.
2) 2016 Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham
The 2016 Supreme Novices' Hurdle saw Altior announce himself on the global scene with a breathtaking performance. Nicky Henderson's charge produced a brilliant round of jumping, and bounded clear up the Cheltenham hill to claim his first Festival success and remains unbeaten over obstacles.
Second that day was Min, who's since won six Group Ones and the 2020 Ryanair. Buveur D'Air stayed on for third and he would later win back-to-back Champion Hurdles for Nicky Henderson. Future three-time Grade One winner, Supasundae couldn't get within 14 lengths of Altior. Neither could a future two-time Grade One winner, Petit Mouchoir and a future Irish Gold Cup winner in Bellshill, who finished eighth and thirteenth respectively.
Altior didn't just beat that stellar field, he destroyed them. Has there ever been a better winner of the Supreme?
1) 2018 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham
In ten years time, when you have to explain to people just how good Altior was, simply show them a replay of the 2018 Champion Chase. As they jump the third-last, whoever you're showing the video to will say something along the lines of, "he doesn't look anything special, he's already being ridden along." To which, you'll respond, "just keep watching", with a smug grin on your face, as you'll know what's about to happen.
Despite turning for home in fifth place, Altior took off when he met the rising ground. Min, Politologue, God's Own and Special Tiara, all Grade One winners in their own right, could do nothing to halt Altior's charge and Nico De Boinville punched the air as he crossed the line a seven-length winner.
Altior wasn't a flawless jumper. He wasn't the smoothest of travellers and he rarely gave his jockey an easy ride. What he did have, though, was an abundance of class, a heart the size of Gloucestershire and an unquenchable thirst for success.