A tribute to the legendary Kauto Star.
By Alice Kay
The loss of a racehorse is always a tragedy. The loss of an out and out champion, and an utter legend of the sport, is an extremely bitter pill to swallow. The sad death of Kauto Star in a paddock accident has rocked the world of racing, and many fans of the game will be feeling a great sense of loss, none more so than his connections, both past and present.
The saying goes that those that shine the brightest shine more briefly. So it was for Arkle, claimed by arthritis aged just 13, and also Secretariat, who prematurely lost his life to the hoof disease laminitis. Those legends had their well-deserved retirements cut far too short, but rather than dwell on their loss, racing fans have always chosen to focus on what made them truly great in the first place: their fantastic achievements on the racecourse, and the immense impact they had on so many people.
We must remember Kauto Star for the same reasons. His epic career, consisting of so many record-breaking performances interspersed with defeats that he always came roaring back from, stands proudly against that of any racehorse. 16 Grade 1 race won. Five King George VI Chases (including four consecutive wins) at his beloved Kempton Park, the course he truly made his own. Four Betfair Chases, including that incredible triumph over Long Run in 2011. Two magnificent Cheltenham Gold Cups, career-defining and history-making performances. The defeats, when they came, were not always so enjoyable, but that was never because Kauto had let anyone down. Even as his rival, be that Denman at his awesome best or Long Run in his prime, pounded ahead to victory, Kauto was not the type of horse to yield. Racing folk loved him for his class, ability and brilliant (if occasionally eccentric) jumping, but they also loved him for his heart and guts, the true measures of greatness in a thoroughbred.
Through Kauto’s exploits, racing hit the headlines for all the right reasons, and new generations of fans have been captured by the thrill of a sport like no other- I myself was one of them.
Thank you Kauto, for the glorious memories of triumphs, losses, and comebacks, for the way you enthralled horseracing for the best part of a decade, for all the new fans you engaged and old fans you inspired, and for epitomising just what National Hunt is all about: truly great horses.
"This is the champion.” – Simon Holt, Cheltenham Gold Cup, 13th March 2009