Horse RacingJump Racing

Nico de Boinville: “Altior is the horse of a lifetime you dream of”

September 13, 2021January 7th, 2022

With the announcement today that Altior has been retired I have to say it really is the end of an era and I am incredibly lucky and very grateful to be associated with a horse of a lifetime like him.

He was broken in at Seven Barrows by Corky Browne and Dan Saunders and I was the first person to get the leg up on him; he was very straightforward every step of the way.

To have a horse to achieve what he did with 19 consecutive victories, including two Champion Chases and three Celebration Chases, is simply incredible and everything he did at Cheltenham was brilliant and the feeling you get from on top of him entering the winners enclosure there is the best feeling in the world, and I feel so privileged to have been the man on board.

I rode him at Market Rasen on his first start and after that race I thought, ‘we’re on to something special here’ but who could have dreamt what he’d go on to do. Luckily he took to hurdles and then was a natural over fences so we knew very early on that he was going to be a high class horse, although what he achieved is stuff of legendary status.

I’m so thankful to his owners, Chris and Pat Pugh and The Boss for allowing me back on after Noel Fehily rode him on his first three chase starts when I was out injured and the whole team at Seven Barrows who have kept him happy and healthy throughout his time in training. He hardly had a lame day throughout and managed to get to all those races which is almost unheard of and a great credit to the staff at home who looked after him so well.

He often used to hit a bit of a flat spot in his races but I remember even during his hurdling days at places like Kempton, which rode very tight for a horse like Altior, he’d take a bit of time to fully wind up but then all of a sudden he’d take off and it just seemed to carry on throughout his whole career. In fact he got used to racing in a very relaxed manner and when he hit that flat spot, you were just waiting for him to come out of it and push on through and come alive again, which he did every time.

He was such a professional horse, as all these good horses are. They know what they’re doing and know what they are about and do what they have do when they need to.

There are so many highlights to choose from; it’s hard to pick one out but the Supreme he won was probably one of the best renewals we’ve seen in a very long time, so that is extremely memorable, but he was an absolute beast over fences and I’ll never forget the performance he put up against Un De Sceaux in the 2018 Tingle Creek. It was hammering down with rain and the ground was heavy but he showed such guts and determination to win. All his wins at Cheltenham were just incredible to be associated with and it’s what every jockey dreams of getting hold of.

I’d ridden Coneygree but Altior arrived at just the time when I needed a top class horse and all credit must go to the Pughs and the Guvnor’ for allowing our partnership to stay together and I’m extremely grateful for all they’ve done for me.

He was a phenomenal, athletic racehorse and I hope he will spend a very long and happy retirement with Mick and Chloe Fitzgerald.

I feel sad that I won’t get to ride him in a race again but I shall cherish the memories we share together and will forever be thankful for what he achieved with me on his back.