Kauto Star will shine on his sport for ever

When I first saw this horse in 2004 even I saw there was something special about him

Share
Related Topics

On page 52 of the i paper today, those who know much more about horseracing than I do have paid tribute to Kauto Star, twice winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, whose retirement at the age of 12 was announced yesterday.

Then again, you didn't need to know much about racing to fall in love with Kauto. It helped that he had matinee idol looks, with a brilliant white blaze cascading down his head, and he cut a striking figure, a magnificently athletic specimen who seemed to carry himself with an insouciant belief in his superiority. It says something when the retirement of a racehorse is announced on the national news, but manifestly Kauto was no ordinary horse, any more than Pegasus, Trigger or Joey (from War Horse) were.

So much was clear when, at Cheltenham last March, Kauto failed in his attempt to defy injury, history, and the odds to win his third Gold Cup and was pulled up. He carried the hopes and the cash of a significant proportion of the crowd that day, but as he trotted back to the paddock, there was no sense from the punters that they had been cheated.

A ripple of applause that started when the great champion came in view of the stands turned into a resounding cheer, which in turn became a standing ovation. For those of us who had followed him from the very start, when he won at Newbury in 2004, it was impossible to stifle a tear. It was an inglorious end to a racing career that was dripping in glory, but the relief that it was just a journey too far for his old chassis, and nothing more untoward than that, was overwhelming.

Even I, a veteran of many invoices from the Tote, saw something special in 2004, and I told anyone who would listen that Kauto was the horse of a generation. In nine years, he won £2,375,883 in prize money. I won rather less by betting on him, but my attachment to Kauto was not rooted in anything as grubby as that. To my eyes, he summed up the romance of a sport whose appeal has to be weighed against the way it puts its participants in harm's way. The occasional fall, and the habitual last fence stumble, revealed Kauto to be fallible, which of course made him all the more appealing, and the triumphs even more thrilling.

Paul Nicholls, Kauto's trainer, was eloquent yesterday in calling time on the horse. “We know he has done enough,” he said, “and in some ways we have to protect him from himself. And maybe ourselves, too.” By all accounts, Kauto is hale and hearty and the temptation for Nicholls and Clive Smith, the horse's owner, to chase history must have been great.

This is a tough, often unsentimental, dangerous sport – the winner of last year's Gold Cup, Synchronised, was killed in his very next race, a victim of Aintree's fences – and we must be thankful that the life of the greatest champion of all will come to a natural end.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering