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

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit