Native River, one of the most popular horses in training, has been retired after being pulled up in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.
The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner won 11 of his 24 chase starts, amassing over £1m in prize-money for his owners, Garth and Anne Broome, and giving the Colin Tizzard yard some of their greatest days to date.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He’s been an absolute legend for us all. His wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Hennessy and the Coral Welsh Grand National were all massive, memorable days for Garth and Anne and the whole team.
“He’s a lovely character, and has been a special horse to train. He will now enjoy a happy and well-deserved retirement.”
Winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in 2016, he went on to land the Coral Welsh National the same season, before finishing a fine third to Sizing John in the 2017 Gold Cup.
But it was the following year that he tasted glory at Cheltenham, powering up the hill to beat Might Bite by four-and-a-half-lengths.
Garth Broome paid tribute to “a horse of a lifetime”.
He said: “The writing was on the wall a long way out, but we thought we’d give him a couple of runs this season with his ground, which he has had both times.
“But his jumping had not been how it had normally been.
“He has been such a grand servant and we just decided enough is enough. It is about the first time in about 25 races that he has been out of the first four, I think.
“He is like a big teddy bear in the stable, but he has a rod of steel down his back when he is a racehorse.
“He is a horse of a lifetime and we have been very lucky to have him.”
He went on: “He will be retired to Tom Malone, who originally bought him. We agreed that several years ago, even before he won the Gold Cup. He lives just a few miles down the road from us (near Taunton).
“There have been several people who have offered to have him in retirement – I think we could have given him to 20 different people! So many people have taken a liking to him.
“Obviously the Gold Cup was the big highlight, but he won the Hennessy, the Denman Chase and the Welsh National in the same season as a six-year-old and then just got touched off for second place in the Gold Cup. That was a golden season.
“He has given us so many good days, but you can’t top the Gold Cup.
“I suppose Remastered is the biggest hope we have of replacing him, but if any horse does half as well as Native River, we will be doing well.
“He ran with his heart on his sleeve – that’s why people took to him. He always tries. He has never run a bad race – even today when everything wasn’t right for him, but he tried up to a point. We said if he was struggling to pull him up.
“We have some lovely memories with him.”