Time called on Kauto Star’s stellar chasing career
Kauto Star, the outstanding chaser who won two Gold Cups at the Cheltenham Festival, has been retired. The 12-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Clive Smith, bows out as one of the greatest horses in the history of National Hunt racing.
Kauto Star had been under consideration for another season of racing but time has now been called on his career and Smith said: “It’s always been in the back of my mind that we should retire him and I’m pleased that now we have made a final decision.”
Kauto Star won 16 Grade One races in a magnificent career. Although he became the first horse to reclaim the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2009, having firstly taken the blue riband of jumps racing in 2007, the esteemed chaser will also be fondly remembered for his five victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton. He made history in December 2009 when becoming the first horse to win four consecutive renewals of the King George but even better was to come last season.
Many believed retirement beckoned when he was pulled up in the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup last May, but Kauto Star stunned the doubters with a fourth triumph on his comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last November, in which he defeated Long Run, the 2011 Gold Cup winner, by eight lengths.
Nicholls and Smith then sent him back to Kempton for the King George on Boxing Day, when he produced arguably his greatest performance with an easy length-and-a-quarter defeat of old rival Long Run. However, Kauto Star’s preparations for the 2012 Gold Cup suffered a major blow in late February when Nicholls revealed he had taken “a pretty awful fall” during a schooling session.
After getting the go-ahead to run, Ruby Walsh’s partner was pulled up with a circuit remaining but history will still treat Kauto Star kindly, and he will be remembered as being by far the best chaser of his generation.
Smith said: “We could have retired him a year ago. A lot of people said then he should be retired but he came back with those terrific two wins.”
Other keynote triumphs for Kauto Star included two wins in the Tingle Creek at Sandown, and two successes in the Champion Chase at Down Royal.
The French-bred son of Village Star made his British debut at Newbury in December 2004, when victorious in a novice chase.
Instantly recognisable due to his striking white face, he was never out of the first three when completing a race, and was rated as highly as 193 in his pomp.
“He’s had a fantastic career and it’s great that he’s been able to retire safe and sound,” said Smith.
Walsh won 17 races aboard Nicholls’ inmate – including his Gold Cup triumphs and his five victories in the King George. He said: “He’s the horse of my lifetime. I’m very lucky to be the one who got to ride him.”
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