Nicky Henderson touched by support from Altior well-wishers but recovery has 'very long way to go'

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The Seven Barrows handler announced on Wednesday that his former two-mile stable star had to undergo two operations over the weekend, including a four-hour surgery on Saturday due to the issue. He said: "I would like to say a big 'thank you' from all of us and everyone at the surgery who have sent so many kind messages about Altior. We are very touched and I only wish Altior could read. It means a lot. "I'd also like to give special mention to Kate McGovern who heads up the team in charge of Altior at Donnington Grove, and while he is still in intensive care, they are doing the most wonderful job and we cannot thank them enough." Henderson is a little more upbeat on the 13-year-old's health, he acknowledges Altior still has "a very long way to go". He told his Unibet blog: "I am pleased to report this morning that Altior had a good night and is more comfortable than he has been so far. "There is still a very long way to go and the next stage is try to wean him off the artificial feeding system towards more natural, normal feed which will test his internal organs and if they can cope. "It will be a big change and the question, to put it very simply, will be if his gut will still work, so it's another big day with plenty of risks involved; with each step comes another big test." A true jump racing great, Altior won 19 races in a row for Henderson, including the 2018 and 2019 Champion Chase, on his way to becoming the highest-rated horse in training, with a peak mark of 175. He was retired in 2021 aged 11, bowing out having won 21 of his 26 career starts, including 10 Grade One races and four victories at the Cheltenham Festival. Altior has since spent his retirement with former jockey Mick Fitzgerald, who visited on Wednesday, with Henderson planning to make his own trip later on Thursday. He added: "Mick and Chloe (Fitzgerald, wife) saw him last night and said he was definitely much brighter and perkier in himself, which is a good sign. I was unable to visit yesterday but will be seeing him later today and (owner) Pat Pugh has barely left his side. "A lot of people say he was a fighter on course and he's now having to prove it off it as well, but we're keeping fingers and toes crossed that he pulls through and we'll keep everyone posted with any further news."

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