Kauto Star retired
Kauto Star has been retired after a glittering career which yielded two Cheltenham Gold Cups and five victories in the King George VI Chase.
Trained throughout his career by Paul Nicholls, Kauto Star was last seen being pulled up with over a circuit to run when bidding to win a third Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Both Nicholls and owner Clive Smith had stressed they would make a decision based on what was best for the gelding and after taking several months to consider his future they have decided bring the curtain down on his remarkable career.
“The end of an era has finally arrived. Clivewas here this morning and we have taken the decision to retire Kauto Star,” Nicholls confirmed in his Betfair column.
Kauto Star opened his account for Nicholls at Newbury in December 2004 when Ruby Walsh guided him to victory in a novice chase and after back-to-back second places at Exeter he returned to winning ways in the 2005 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
Next up was a trip to Cheltenham for the Queen Mother Champion Chase but that ended in disappointment as he crashed out, but the step up to three miles at the start of the 2006-07 season proved to be the making of him as he went through the campaign unbeaten, culminating in his first Gold Cup triumph.
Stable companion Denman got the better of him in a thrilling renewal of the Gold Cup the following March but he made history 12 months later when he became the first horse to reclaim the Blue Riband.
That was to be his final victory in the Cheltenham feature, but he gave a good account of himself to finish third in 2011 before defying expectations to win a fifth King George VI Chase at Kempton last Christmas.
“We have had nine superb years with the horse but, after seeing him in his work these past few weeks, myself, Clifford and Dan were of the opinion that the time had arrived to retire him,” Nicholls continued.
“Of course, as owner, the final decision rested with Clive, but he agreed that the horse had done enough.
“Don’t get me wrong, Kauto looks and feels as vibrant as ever, as those who saw him at our owners’ Open Day last month would testify to. He was mad fresh that day and continues to be as alert as ever and very, very well in himself. But I suspect Kauto will be like that when he is 20-years-old.
“And, deep down, we know he has done enough – and in some ways I think we have to protect him from himself. And maybe ourselves, too. If he did go to Kempton and win or run well, would you really want to run him – or be able to resist the temptation – in the Gold Cup?
“I am not so sure.
“Kauto is signing off in full health and after a season in which he proved so many people wrong by winning a fifth King George and a fourth Betfair Chase, to add to his two Cheltenham Gold Cups and Tingle Creeks.”
A heavy fall during a routine schooling session disrupted his preparations for the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he recovered and convinced connections he was ready to bid for a third victory.
It was not to be, however, as he struggled to settle and Walsh did the right thing in pulling him up with over a circuit to run.
“The spontaneous applause he got from the crowd when he was pulled up genuinely lifted the spirits of all the team here – and it is the team here, from Clifford down, and Clive, that made Kauto what he became – at what was a low moment,” Nicholls reflected.
“Disappointment was immediately replaced by pride, and that is the overwhelming emotion I feel when looking at the horse.
“Ever since then, Clive and I have discussed retirement at regular intervals.
“But now the decision has been made it will be very strange to look out of my office window and not see Kauto’s head and Denman’s arse sticking out the main two boxes – or indeed Clive’s Master Minded, for that matter.
“Because Kauto Star will be the hardest of acts to follow.
“He has given me my best days in the sport and, even though the Gold Cups and King Georges are the pinnacles for any staying chaser, with his 2009 Kempton win breathtakingly impressive, the raw emotion that followed his Haydock win last November will live longest in my memory.
“I had to hold myself together to stop myself being in floods of tears that day, and I just about managed it.
“But whatever the future holds, I am certain that Clive and all us here at Ditcheat will reflect on a magnificent past and I am sure we will both go on searching for the unattainable in the future.
“Namely, a horse to replace the irreplaceable legend that was, and is, Kauto Star.”by: Michelle, October 31, 2012