In my opinion, Kauto Star is the finest National Hunt racehorse of my generation. For those of you who don’t know, Kauto Star won his fifth G1 King George VI Chase at Kempton in Britain, Dec. 26.
Kauto Star is what jump racing is all about. The sport remains extremely popular in Britain and Ireland, and has the ability to make the front pages--highlighted in Friday's TDN. It appears to be part of the social fabric, with the perception being that the smaller owner/breeder has a greater chance of competing against the game’s biggest players. Eight out of ten people on the street in Britain and Ireland would be able to name a jumper, with Kauto Star being the public’s favorite.
He is a unique animal, and his talent shows no signs of abating as he nears the ripe old age of 12. His record breaking achievement at Kempton tops an illustrious career, which also includes two G1 Cheltenham Gold Cups, two G1 Tingle Creeks and four G1 Betfair Chases. I can’t even begin to fathom what this would translate to on the flat. Let’s just say it’s unprecedented.
It has been a privilege to witness Kauto’s remarkable exploits since his unveiling in 2003. His lifetime record of 40-23-7-4 is testament to his ability and remarkable consistency. Denman, Imperial Commander and Long Run have all challenged and briefly surpassed, but none of these horses have been able to match Kauto’s sustained class.
Kauto possesses an extraordinary combination of attributes, something that is rarely seen in the jumping sphere. He has all the quality of a flat horse, combined with the gritty determination and will-to-win of an old fashioned chaser. He did miss a few fences in his younger days, but his jumping has generally been top-notch over the years.
|Kauto Star Priceform.com|
Long Run got the upper hand in last season’s G1 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and may well get his head in front again in March. The steep climb to finish and left-handed track should play to the strengths of the young pretender. However, it would take a brave man to back against the rejuvenated Kauto Star. Many people had written him off, including myself, after he failed to sparkle in a disappointing campaign last season. However, like all great champions Kauto showed that he had a couple of big fights left in him. Could he possibly have a few more up his sleeve?
Time nor tide waits for no man/horse, and the day will come when Kauto Star no longer reigns supreme. He will be replaced and other great horses will go on to challenge his records, and maybe even eclipse them. However, it's extremely unlikely that I will ever see the likes of him again.
Thanks for the memories, Kauto. It has been a privilege.