End beckons as Kauto's star dims anew

Connections of Kauto Star promised not to rush to any hasty judgement. Even so, there was a latent sense of valediction to his dismal performance in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown yesterday.

It can be argued that Kauto Star had not shown his very best form in any of his four previous starts. Here he was never travelling with any great élan and was first off the bridle as the field grouped six fences out, and failed to respond to a couple of reminders from Ruby Walsh. His jockey sensibly wasted little time in easing down, and pulled up before the next fence, but was at least able to demonstrate to the horse's fans that he was sound by cantering him back past the stands. The old champion was warmly received as Clive Smith, his owner, led him proudly back into the parade ring.

Paul Nicholls had been vexed by suggestions that Kauto Star be retired after his odds-on defeat behind the new champion, Long Run, in his quest for a fifth King George at Kempton in January. And nor was the trainer disposed to end one of the great steeplechasing careers of the modern era on the spot. "I said to Georgie [Browne, his partner] before the race I didn't care where he finished, as long as he came back safe and sound," Nicholls said. "And after he'd jumped three or four it was obvious where he would finish. He was not firing today.

"I'd done things a bit differently with him this year, and had him fine-tuned for Cheltenham, and then might have been a bit easy with him before this. But I'm not going to make any rash decisions based on one run. You could have a six-year-old that runs badly at this time of year, and then comes back. It's hard to judge on one run but if he came back in the autumn, and ran like that, then obviously we would retire him."

Smith, however, has previously intimated that he is anxious for his new champion not to go out in any kind of unworthy decline. Bookmakers, certainly, had no hesitation in deleting Kauto Star from all ante-post betting.

The race was won by a 20-1 shot, Follow The Plan, after Roberto Goldback had made a terrible mistake and discarded his jockey when in the lead over the last.

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Sport
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura sprays a line after calling for a free kick for Brazil
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Tax Solicitor

£40000 - £70000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Tax Solicitor An excel...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: This is an exce...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz