Two equine superstars to enjoy ‘proper retirement send-off’

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  • Doyens of jump racing Altior and Native River will delight their fans in a “special-guest” racecourse return at Newbury.

    The recently retired pair, two of the most popular National Hunt stars in recent seasons, will parade on Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury racecourse (12 February). It will be the first time either has been on a racecourse since their retirements earlier this season.

    “We are delighted that Altior is returning to parade at his old stomping ground and thank Newbury racecourse for this invitation,” said owners Particia and Chris Pugh.

    “Altior had some seminal experiences here which were critical to his career. We would, of course, also like to thank all the fantastic racegoers for their kind words after Altior’s retirement.”

    The Nicky Henderson-trained two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner bowed out from the sport in September, aged 11. His career boasted 21 wins from 26 starts, including 10 Grade Ones and a 19-race unbeaten streak.

    Altior retired: Nicky Henderson’s stable star Altior has retired from racing aged 11

    Nicky Henderson’s stable star pictured winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase victory in 2019.

    Newbury was a happy hunting ground for both horses. Altior never finished outside the top three at the track and is the only horse to win the Game Sprint Chase three times (2017, 2018 and 2020).

    Native River’s first victory at the course came in the 2016 Hennessy (now Ladbrokes Trophy), which he followed up with three wins in the Denman Chase. The 12-year-old gelding holds the record as the most successful horse in the history of the race, taking glory in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

    The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, trained by Colin Tizzard, was retired in December, following a career that featured 14 wins and earnings of £1.1 million.

    “Native River was unbeaten in five runs over fences at Newbury,” said co-owner Garth Broom.

    “The season in which he won the Ladbrokes Trophy, the Welsh National and the Betfair Denman Chase and then finished a very close third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup would be a hard to top as a season. Of course, he then went and trumped that by winning the Gold Cup the following year.

    “He performed for us every season in top-class races. He always raced with his heart on his sleeve. People took to him because he didn’t know how to run a bad race. He gave us so many good memories.”

    The pair will parade between the Denman and Game Sprint chases.

    “To have these two heroes return to Newbury on Betfair Super Saturday to parade in front of racegoers is particularly special,” said Keith Ottesen, clerk of the course.

    “Our thanks go to owners Patricia and Chris Pugh and Garth and Ann Broom for their kind permission to bring these two very special jumping legends back to the racecourse so we can give them a proper retirement send-off.

    “Both horses have been synonymous with this meeting, and it feels entirely appropriate that they are paraded between their respective winning races on the day.

    “Thanks to Chloe and Mick Fitzgerald and the Tizzard team. We look forward to welcoming them all here in just over two weeks’ time and in front of a big crowd, our first at this fixture since 2020.”

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