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."

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?