Stuttering Star fails in fifth King George bid

No excuses from his team but plenty of heavy hearts among the crowd as former champ loses his crown to younger Long Run

The spirit had seemed as willing as ever but finally there are younger legs on the park. Yesterday, as Kauto Star finally ceded the crown he has long worn so proudly, they belonged principally to the gifted six-year-old Long Run, 12-length winner of the delayed King George VI Chase. And if there was disappointment in the old champion's corner that his tilt at an unprecedented fifth victory in the winter showpiece ended with a weary third place, there was also acceptance that the changing of the guard is the nature of the game.

"Maybe age has caught up with him at last," said his trainer, Paul Nicholls, of the great public favourite who turned 11 with the new year. "He's not showing any signs of it at home but it's here that he's got to prove it. And the winner is one of the next generation who has looked like a really good horse."

Equally, there was no triumphalism in the defeat of the great horse from Nicky Henderson, responsible for both Long Run and runner-up Riverside Theatre, and on the day, playing the role of the man who shot Bambi's mother. "I would have been the first to stand and cheer if Kauto Star had won," he said, "but the wheel turns and today was ours."

As Long Run was one of five winners here for Henderson's Seven Barrows stable, including an equallysparkling one from the reigning Champion Hurdler Binocular, that can be considered a considerable understatement. But even with that haul came a reminder of the levelling qualities of the game with the death at Warwick of one of the yard's promising novices, Peveril.

Victory for Long Run, a first King George for Henderson, was a family affair. The French-bred gelding carries the colours of entrepreneur Robert Waley-Cohen and is ridden by his 28-year-old son Sam, amateur in status but as professional in attitude as his day job of running his private dental practice business allows.

Waley-Cohen Jnr handed most of the credit to Long Run afterwards but he had given his mount a peach of a ride as he tracked the pace set by Nacarat for a circuit and a half before leading at the head of the straight, three fences out. "He got into a terrific rhythm with his jumping," he said. "I had my eye on Kauto Star all the way, waiting for him to come. When I saw he was not going that well I had a decision to make, whether to wait or go on and trust his stamina. In the end the horse made the decision himself and jumped me to the front. We took the sword to the king."

Long Run and Binocular, who set up his defence of his Cheltenham crown in the Christmas Hurdle, gave Henderson the first double in the two Grade One races since Fred Winter completed it in 1973. He now feels minded to aim Long Run at the Cheltenham Gold Cup rather than the shorter , and less prestigious, Ryanair Chase. "They say that it's an easy three miles here," he said, "but they've got to stay it properly, especially in a race like this which is always run at a furious pace with no chance of a breather. The way he finished I don't think he needs a drop in trip."

Long Run is second favourite for the Festival showpiece at around 6-1, behind last year's winner Imperial Commander. Kauto Star, who has two Gold Cups on his CV as well as his four King Georges, has been pushed out to 10-1 in most lists and whether or not he runs must be in the balance.

Even the skills of Tony McCoy could not kindle the brilliance he has shown in the past; there was none of his trademark elan in his galloping or jumping yesterday. He might have been second but for a mistake two out but he would not have caught Long Run.

Nicholls admitted that he saw the writing on the wall for the 4-7 favourite from the first strides of the contest. "I never thought he'd win at any point," he said. "He always seemed to be labouring and looked as if he's just lost half a yard all round. He's done well to even be here five times and there are no excuses."

Kauto Star cannot call time on his own career but must rely on the good sense of those closest to him to make whatever decision is in his best interests, which may be sooner rather than later. His owner, Clive Smith, mindful that his favourite escaped with his life after a fall in last year's Gold Cup, may not tempt fate again. "We'll see how he is in the next week," he said, "I treasure him and admire him for what he has already done."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
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

Head of Digital Marketing Manager, Hampstead,London

To £55kpa (12 Month Contract): Charter Selection: Major household name charity...

Service Technician

£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil