Cheltenham Festival Greats, Kauto Star


By Carl Harris
We are on the road to the festival now and the excitement is starting to build. This is where champions become legends. We all have Cheltenham memories and favourite horses and mine is definitely the great Kauto Star.

Kauto Star is sadly no longer with us and it is very sad how the public spat between owner, Clive Smith and trainer, Paul Nicholls left a shadow over what was a spectacular career. The greatest chaser I have seen in my lifetime.

Many will jump in and tell me Denman was better, but part of this wonderful horse’s attraction was the rivalry with his stablemate Denman, who was a wonderful horse in his own right, The Tank. In my view though Kauto Star had the class, the prowess and the charm that Denman didn’t have. What a career he had. He won only twice at Cheltenham but those were two Gold Cups. His achievements over fences take some listing:

This is from Wikipedia

Kauto Star (19 March 2000 – 29 June 2015) was a French-bred National Hunt champion racehorse who was trained by Paul Nicholls in Somerset and owned by Clive Smith. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, in 2007 and 2009, becoming the first horse to regain the cup after losing it in 2008 when seven lengths behind Denman.[1] He tried for three more years to win the race again, but the best placing he could achieve was in 2011 when third behind Long Run.[2] He also won the King George VI Chase a record five times. He was one of the most successful steeplechasers of modern era finishing his racing career with a National Hunt record of £3,775,883 in earnings, which consisted of £2,375,883 in race prize money,[3] £1,000,000 bonus for the completion of 2006/2007 Stayers Chase Triple Crown and also £400,000 reward for heading the BHA Table of Merit in the same 2006/2007 season.

Kauto Star won 23 of his 41 races, including five King George VI Chases. he was an amazingly exciting horse. I started as a punter and tipster in 2006 and Kauto Star was always my banker bet. As a punter though it was not always plain sailing. You never know what he was going to do! He had a habit of making a hash of the last fence. But as a Chaser Kauto Star was the most courageous horse and became the first horse to ever win the Gold Cup. I was there that day to see it.

What a superb profile by the excellent Alistair Down following his death in 2015…

Click here to watch on Youtube.

It is the King George at Kempton that will forever be his race, five times a winner. This record I hope will never be broken, because it was just amazing to see him come back and win it year after year. Superbly handled by Paul Nicholls, great horses need great trainers.

We all have our favourites, he was mine. The best jumps horse of all time, the Frankel over fences. You take to some horses more than others, I will say I actually loved Kauto Star. He was an important horse to me as a punter.

I met him at Cheltenham. After the Gold Cup in 2009 I was making my way back to my car and the lad was taking him back to the boxes, sometime after the last race. They had been waiting for him to pee in the testing box, it took a while. I asked if it was ok to give him a quick pat. The horse knew he was a star, he stopped as if to pose for a photo, took his pat on the nose and strolled off as if he had just got out of bed, never mind made history and just won a second Gold Cup. He was great to watch in the pre-race parade ring, he walked in there like he owned it. He was so charismatic, an equine god incarnate.

For me he will forever be the greatest chaser of them all. He is sadly missed,but who is your greatest ever Cheltenham horse? Let me know, email us.

There are more heroes and legends to be made at Cheltenham! It is simply the greatest week of the year for jump racing fans!

Join us for the 2016 Cheltenham Festival!

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