‘No horse deserves this’: legendary jumper in critical condition after colic surgery

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  • Legendary former National Hunt racehorse Altior is “critically ill” with colic, according to a blog post released by his former trainer Nicky Henderson.

    The two-time Champion Chase winner, who retired in 2021, has undergone two operations and is still in critical condition.

    Multiple champion jumps trainer Nicky said: “Unfortunately we have a problem with Altior after it was discovered on Saturday morning [21 January] that he was suffering from a severe bout of colic.

    “As a consequence, he was taken to the equine hospital very, very quickly where he had to undergo a four-hour operation to remove a considerable amount of his intestine. It was a big operation and not straightforward.”

    Nicky said that the following morning, Altior was “still extremely uncomfortable so had to undergo further surgery due to complications”.

    “There is some reasonably positive news in the fact that this morning he is stable, but still critical,” he said today (25 January). “Pat Pugh [Altior’s owner] has been to see him on several occasions and he is currently in extremely good hands with all of the team at Donnington Valley.”


    Altior clears the last fence before going on to win The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Steeplechase under Nico de Boinville during the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

    Altior, 13, was retired in September 2021, after a career headlined by his world record-setting 19 consecutive victories and brace of Champion Chase titles.

    Nicky Henderson said at the time of Altior’s retirement that the horse’s owners Christopher and Patricia Pugh wanted to retire the 11-year-old “while still at his peak, fit, sound and healthy and ready for a new career”.

    In all, Altior scored 21 victories from his 26 starts, including 10 Grade Ones and winning £1,320,795. He has been spending his retirement with former top National Hunt jockey Mick Fitzgerald and his wife Chloe.

    “It’s a terrible shame because he deserves a long and happy retirement and was really enjoying life at Chloe and Mick Fitzgerald’s,” said Nicky. “It’s been extremely tough, and no horse deserves this, especially dear Altior who gave so much pleasure to everyone on the track.

    “We are all praying and doing everything humanely possible to ensure he can pull through and continue living life as he should.”

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