Nicholls retires Kauto the great before star has chance to wane

 

For Kauto Star to be retired yesterday, just 11 days after another paragon, should prompt due circumspection in assessing his own place in the Turf pantheon. Certainly, those who glibly saluted Frankel as "the greatest ever" on the Flat will surely feel abashed in according Kauto Star equivalent status in the history of steeplechasing, even with the customary rider "since Arkle". The sport incorrigibly anoints its latest champion as the best. In at least one respect, however, Kauto Star's career can be soberly acclaimed as an enduring benchmark – and "enduring" is very much the word.

Nobody was surprised that Paul Nicholls and Clive Smith, his trainer and owner respectively, have agreed not to persevere with Kauto Star as he approaches his 13th birthday. But it is precisely his longevity that sets the horse apart, above all in registering that staggering fifth success in the King George VI Chase last Christmas. He won 16 Grade One prizes in all, albeit his final appearance in March proved an anticlimax, pulled up by halfway as he sought a third Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Kauto Star could be a spectacular jumper, especially when Ruby Walsh made up his mind for him, but had been lucky to recover from a crashing fall in the 2010 Gold Cup. Many then began to fear that connections were pushing their luck, as he plodded into podium finishes at Cheltenham and Kempton behind a new champion, Long Run. Nicholls was duly ecstatic, then, over a comeback that triggered joyous scenes at Haydock last November.

"His 2009 King George was breathtaking, but the raw emotion at Haydock will live longest in my memory," Nicholls said yesterday. "I had to hold myself together to stop myself being in floods of tears that day." Walsh paid tribute to his resilience. "He came back from hard races and heavy falls," the horse's regular rider said. "He just kept coming back, and getting back up to Grade One level again. He was a wonderful horse to have in your life."

Though the door had been left ajar to another King George, yesterday's decision was widely received with relief and gratitude. "Sometimes you have to listen to your head and your heart, and both told me retirement was the only option," Nicholls explained in his Betfair blog. "You are a long time retired, particularly if you are as exuberant, intelligent and inquisitive as this great horse. But, knowing Kauto, he would be coming back in at the age of 14 still looking and working brilliantly, and giving us that burning question to answer. Delaying would probably have been just selfishness and stubbornness on my part – the equivalent of a football manager desperately clinging on to his best, if ageing player."

Nicholls was always somewhat defensive of Kauto Star's reputation, understandably so when you consider the way he contributed to the trainer's own rise – and measured his mastery. "Kauto is signing off in full health and after a season in which he proved so many people wrong," Nicholls stressed. "He looks and feels as vibrant as ever. But deep down we know he has done enough, and in some ways I think we have to protect him from himself.

"Kauto is a public horse, every bit as much as Desert Orchid, and that had to be a factor in the decision. And while it would have been brilliant to go out on a high, I don't think anyone at Cheltenham last March would view his final appearance as a failure. The spontaneous applause from the crowd genuinely lifted the spirits of all the team here. Disappointment was immediately replaced by pride – and that is the overwhelming emotion I feel when looking at the horse."

Stellar overdrive: Kauto Star's world record 16 Grade One wins

1. Tingle Creek Chase Sandown 2m, 3.12.05: by 1.5 lengths

2. Betfair Chase Haydock 3m, 18.11.06: by 17 lengths

3. Tingle Creek Chase Sandown 2m, 2.12.06: by 7 lengths

4. King George VI Chase Kempton 3m, 26.12.06: by 8 lengths (from Exotic Dancer)

5. Gold Cup Cheltenham 3m 2f, 16.3.07: by 2.5 lengths (from Exotic Dancer)

6. Betfair Chase Haydock 3m, 24.11.07: by 0.5 length

7. King George VI Chase Kempton 3m, 26.12.07: by 11 lengths (from Our Vic)

8. Ascot Chase 2m5f, 16.2.08: by 8 lengths

9. Champion Chase Down Royal 3m, 1.11.08: by 11 lengths

10. King George VI Chase Kempton 3m, 26.12.08: by 8 lengths (from Albertas Run)

11. Gold Cup Cheltenham 3m 2f, 13.03.09: by 13 lengths (from Denman)

12. Betfair Chase Haydock 3m, 21.11.09: by a nose

13. King George VI Chase Kempton 3m, 26.12.09: by 36 lengths (from Madison Du Berlais)

14. Champion Chase Down Royal 3m, 6.11.10: by 4 lengths

15. Betfair Chase Haydock 3m, 19.11.11: by 8 lengths

16. King George VI Chase Kempton 3m: by 1.25 lengths (from Long Run)

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum