Super Kauto Star lands fifth King George

 

Kauto Star sent Kempton Park racegoers into a state of mass hysteria
and consolidated his position as the most acclaimed National Hunt horse
since Arkle with an unprecedented fifth victory in the William Hill King
George VI Chase.

Many clutched the free banners inscribed 'Go Go Long Run' in support of the reigning champion, but they seemed outnumbered by others with 'Come On Kauto' and the green and yellow scarves which have multiplied since the veteran began his almost unimaginable comeback.

Seemingly on a downward spiral when trounced by Long Run in the last King George and at his nadir when pulled up at Punchestown in May, Kauto Star (3-1) exacted a revenge as stylish as it was popular, jumping perhaps as well as he has ever done.

A length and a quarter divided Ruby Walsh from Sam Waley-Cohen and even-money favourite Long Run by the post - a much shorter margin than when Kauto Star had dramatically returned to the fore at Haydock last month.

But it was another stinging riposte from Paul Nicholls' gelding, who appears to be thriving in his relative underdog status on the verge of his 12th birthday.

Champions will be made year after year in racing; that much is certain. But with a Flat horse to awaken the senses in Frankel and Big Buck's galloping inexorably towards the greatest hurdling winning streak in history, there is a genuine feeling of a golden age.

As Kauto Star passed Desert Orchid's mark of four wins in the Boxing Day extravaganza, he must now rank only short of the essentially untouchable Arkle.

"The weak don't last - the tough do," said Walsh after a deafening welcome back to the winner's enclosure.

"You can say what you want about the best steeplechasers of all time, but he's outlasted them all.

"He's gone on as long as Desert Orchid. Arkle didn't last long, neither did Mill House, and that's what makes him brilliant."

Walsh had been very positive throughout the three miles, not being afraid to sit close to the confirmed leaders Golan Way and Nacarat and found himself progressing so well he was in front for most of the final circuit.

Kauto Star devoured the final few fences, looking the likely winner from some way out, and although Long Run finished determinedly, the damage had been done.

Walsh said: "We had to ride him positively. Paul and I know he goes best left-handed and you've got to give him plenty of space

"I thought Long Run would be the one to beat, and that's not just waffle, but he looked a million dollars and he felt great.

"This is a fairytale. He's a wonderful horse and it's a credit to the people who work with him every day.

"He's beaten a six-year-old (Long Run) and he's 12 next week. To keep a horse going as long as that is amazing."

Nicholls, winning the race for the seventh time himself, had felt affronted by those who had called for Kauto Star's retirement after the Punchestown run.

He said: "He just wasn't right last year and I don't know why - maybe it took him a long time to recover after falling in the previous Gold Cup.

"A lot of horses do run flat at the end of a season and I said to Clive (Smith, owner) that unless everything was right I would retire him, but he was just so well in the autumn that I told him we had to keep going.

"I promise you that the slightest sign he is losing his enthusiasm and we will call it a day.

"I believed today was possible. He might be 11 but he has been acting like an eight-year-old at home and when he's right, he's as good as ever.

"To come back here six times is just unbelievable. I'll never have another like him."

Kauto Star is now 4-1 behind 5-2 favourite Long Run with the sponsors in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and Nicholls said: "He has won two Grade Ones this season and if I can get him into this shape at Cheltenham, he'll run really well."

Smith, whose other horse Master Minded sustained a nasty tendon injury in the race, said: "I knew this was the biggest day of my racing life - 24 years or so.

"It's a great thrill - to beat a Gold Cup winner in that way is just fantastic. I'm so proud - he has got the heart of a lion."

PA

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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
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

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Executive / Business Development

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

Recruitment Genius: Tennant Liaison Officer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An experienced TLO is required to manage, deli...

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Operative

£6 - £15 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a well e...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen