Return of the King - Kauto Star winning his 5th King George VI Steeplechase
size: 21" x 15"
Edition of only 500 prints worldwide
print is individually checked and numbered by the publisher.
Limited Edition Print has been printed with lightfast inks on acid-free,
high grade board from environmentally conscious paper suppliers.
only price: £110.00
Sire: Village Star
Dam: Kauto Relka
Damsire: Port Etienne
Breeder: Mrs Henri Aubert
Owner: Clive D. Smith
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Record 40: 23-7-4
Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007, 2009)
King George VI Chase (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011)
Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011)
Tingle Creek Chase (2005, 2006)
Old Roan Chase (2006)
Aon Chase (2007)
Ascot Chase (2008)
JNwine.com Champion Chase (2008, 2010)
Timeform rating: 191
Betfair Million (2006/07)
National Hunt Order of Merit (2006/07, 2007/08)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Kauto Star (foaled March 19, 2000) is a French-bred National Hunt racehorse, who is currently trained by Paul Nicholls in Somerset, England.
Kauto Star is one of the most successful National Hunt horses of all time. Ultra consistent, incredibly tough and extremely versatile, he possesses a devastating turn of foot, a unique talent among staying chasers. He holds numerous records in the sport; he was the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and is the only horse to have won the King George VI Chase four consecutive times, as well as winning it five times in all.
Kauto Star first came to the attention of Paul Nicholls when he saw a video of him in action at Auteuil. Nicholls was so impressed with what he saw that he sought to arrange a purchase through his bloodstock agent in France, Anthony Bromley. Nicholls arranged an owner in the shape of Clive Smith who was looking to purchase a horse and had recently had a 500,000 guineas offer for another horse (Garde Champetre) outbid by J. P. McManus. He used 400,000 euros to purchase Kauto Star from his French owners.
After a promising Hurdle career in France where he was known as 'L'Extraterrestre' which translates to 'The Extraterrestrial' Kauto Star made a successful debut in England, winning a Novice Chase at Newbury beating Foreman by 9 lengths. Unfortunately he could only finish runner-up on his next appearance in an extraordinary race at Exeter beaten by Mistral De La Cour by a short head, Kauto Star had cantered into a 12-length lead approaching the second last fence when he fell, his jockey Ruby Walsh was able to re-mount the horse, without his irons they jumped the last and chased the leader down just failing by a nose. Another half stride and he would have got up to win. Sadly he picked up an injury in the race, which ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival and the rest of the season.
Kauto Star started the new season with defeat over two miles and a furlong at Exeter to Monkerhostin. He followed this up though with an excellent one and a half length defeat of Ashley Brook in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, the first of his numerous Grade One successes. This meant that Kauto Star came into the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival as the 2/1 Favourite, unfortunately for his supporters the horse fell at only the third fence.
Kauto Star came into the new season with high hopes and expectations. He didn't let any one down on his seasonal reappearance destroying Armaturk by 21 lengths in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree. Over the next six weeks Kauto Star confirmed himself as the leading chaser in training, completing the first two legs of the Betfair Million thrashing multiple Grade One winner Beef or Salmon by 17 lengths in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park and then overcoming a final fence blunder to win the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park by 8 lengths defeating Exotic Dancer. In between these two excellent successes over 3 miles, he was able to show his fantastic versatility by dropping back to 2 miles to win the Tingle Creek Chase for the second year running defeating the 2006/07 season Champion Chaser Voy Por Ustedes by 7 lengths. Kauto Star then had his final prep run before Cheltenham Gold Cup in the Aon Chase at Newbury, another final fence blunder meant Kauto Star had to battle all the way to line to defeat L'Ami by a neck, although he never looked like being passed.
The 2007 Gold Cup:
After 5 straight victories, Kauto Star then headed into the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a very warm favourite, on the day he was sent off the very short priced 5/4. Despite the concerns beforehand about Kauto's jumping he put in an immaculate round of fences, tracking the leaders in mid-division, before cruising into the lead before the second last, he then jumped the final fence to the roars of the Cheltenham crowd seeing off old rival Exotic Dancer by 2 and a half lengths to confirm himself the new superstar of National Hunt racing. With victory here Kauto Star won his connections a £1 million bonus, as a result of completing the Betfair Million and was also the winner of the British Horseracing Authority's Jumps Order of Merit.
Pre-season excitement: Punters were extremely excited ahead of the 2007/08 season as a fantastic showdown loomed between Kauto Star and another of Paul Nicholls' horses Denman, winner of last season's Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the top race for novice staying chasers. Nicholls vowed to keep the pair apart for the season, culminating in a mouth watering potential showdown in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Kauto Star began the current campaign as he had the season before in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree he faced just 3 rivals giving weight away all round, commentators and pundits stated beforehand that Kauto Star didn't look right in his coat in the parade ring and his trainer Paul Nicholls stated he wouldn't be surprised if the horse got beat, as he needed the run. Kauto ran very uncharacteristically receiving reminders from Ruby Walsh a long way from home and was beaten a length by 2½ mile Aintree specialist Monet's Garden, giving the winner a stone in weight. His trainer proved to be right though as Kauto Star, partnered by Sam Thomas on this occasion as regular jockey Ruby Walsh was out injured with a dislocated shoulder, defended his Betfair Chase crown at Haydock Park, defeating a decent field, led by his old adversary Exotic Dancer who he saw off by half a length. Paul Nicholls then chose to miss this season's Tingle Creek Chase due to its closer proximity to Kauto Star's next target, the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park this season. This proved another astute performance from the horse's trainer as Kauto Star put in what was possibly his finest performance yet, cruising into an easy lead rounding the bend to the home straight, Kauto eased to an 11-length victory over Our Vic.
The horse's final preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup was to be at Ascot in the Ascot Chase over 2 miles 5 furlongs. Kauto Star easily reversed the Aintree form on level weights with Monet's Garden recording an 8-length victory. The real drama came in the hours after the race. In the early evening, Kauto Star's Gold Cup odds began to inexplicably lengthen on the Betting Exchanges, drifting until finally the Gold Cup betting was suspended by online bookmakers. It was then reported that Kauto Star was believed to have been found lame behind and that he was injured and set to miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A statement the following day from Paul Nicholls revealed that the vet had examined Kauto that morning and found him to have an infection in one of his hind hoofs, the injury wasn't as serious as first thought and after rest the horse would be fit and well, ready to line up at Cheltenham on March 14.
The 2008 Gold Cup:
Horse racing fans were eagerly awaiting this season's Gold Cup clash between Kauto Star and his stablemate Denman. Kauto was odds on favourite to retain his crown, although many anticipated an enthralling and very close race. However, he was sent off at 10-11 favourite to retain his crown with Denman drifting on the day to 9-4. The race, though was an entirely different matter with Kauto Star looking off the pace and jumping poorly. Denman romped home to win by seven lengths with Kauto Star bravely battling on in the soft ground to hold second place over Neptune Collonges.
Speculation to Kauto's well being arose after the race but not wanting to take anything away from Denman, the worthy winner. However, Kauto Star did not seem to be the same horse as in any of his previous races. His jumping seemed to have declined and he didn't display any turn-of-foot which Kauto Star is characteristically renowned for, as not many National Hunt horses display a great turn-of-foot as by come the end of the race stamina has normally been fully exerted. But Kauto Star normally manages to accelerate further away from his rivals (as he so brilliantly did in the 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup), leaving speculation as to him still carrying an injury.
Had Kauto Star won the Cheltenham Gold Cup he would have again earned an extra £1million for completion of the Betfair Million having also previously won the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase earlier in the season.
Final Race of the Season:
Kauto Star lost again in what would be his last race of the season, going down by a narrow defeat to Ryanair winner Our Vic in the Totesport Bowl at Aintree, however this second placed finish ensured he won the 2008 Order of Merit title, becoming the first horse to win this two seasons in succession. Clive D. Smith put the nature of this defeat down to Kauto's busy and consuming season and also the short time window between the Cheltenham Gold Cup only the month before.
After beginning his season winning the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal, Kauto Star unseated stand-in jockey Sam Thomas (Ruby Walsh being out injured with a ruptured spleen) at the final fence in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, which he had won for the previous two years. As he may well not have won the race had he not blundered, some claimed that he was now in decline. He proved such doubters wrong with an impressive third consecutive victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, equalling Wayward Lad's total of wins and now behind only Desert Orchid. There had been a gamble on Kauto before the race, ensuring that he started at odds-on (10-11), whereas it had previously looked likely that, unlike in his previous two wins in the race, he would start at odds against.
After Kauto's third defeat off a short break between races at Haydock Paul Nicholls had come to the conclusion that Kauto Star was best run fresh and super fit, so he would be going straight to Cheltenham in an attempt to regain the ultimate prize, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 2009 Gold Cup:
Kauto Star then went on to win the 2009 Gold Cup defeating Denman and becoming the first horse in history to regain his Cheltenham Crown. Kauto put in a breathtaking performance to win the contest by 13 lengths, a performance Timeform called "arguably the best performance in the race since Arkle" and "ending once and for all any doubt about his place among the greats". After the race, Ruby Walsh, the top jockey at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival was quoted as saying: "He's (Kauto Star) the greatest horse I've ever ridden.". Kauto Star was given an Official Rating of 186 on the back of this Performance.
The Betfair Chase:
On Saturday 21 November, Kauto Star made it a hat-trick of victories in the Betfair Chase having previously won the race in 2006 and 2007. He won by the narrowest of margins over the Ryanair Chase winner Imperial Commander, who rallied well to answer the callings of Paddy Brennan but to fail only by a nose. However, nothing is to be taken away from Kauto Star in his manner of victory, he won in a gutsy display of stamina and courage on ever decreasing, unfavourable ground and on a course that has proven not to be one of his favourites.
King George VI Chase:
Saturday 26 December 2009 proved to be a historic day as Kauto Star went on to win his fourth consecutive King George VI Chase. In doing so he equalled Desert Orchid's record of four victories over five years. In the race, as Kauto Star cruised up on the outside of long time leader Nacarat rounding the home turn, he was travelling so well that a roar went up from the Kempton crowd as they sensed something special was about to happen. That it was, as Kauto Star effortlessly pulled away to win in record breaking style. The official winning distance was 36 lengths, a new record in the race, breaking Arkle's 44 year old record of 30 lengths. It was a performance described by all who saw it as "faultless" and the best of his career to date, he earnt a Racing Post Rating of 192, the highest ever awarded to a National Hunt horse. He has been given a Timeform rating of 191, (the highest given to a horse since the 1960s), making him the third highest rated of all time (joint with Mill House) and only behind Flyingbolt (210) and Arkle (212).
Cheltenham Gold Cup 2010:
Sent off a very short price for the 2010 Gold Cup, Kauto Star was strongly fancied to land his third gold cup. He spent the early part of the race travelling well and at the 7th fence put in a spectacular jump to go into second place, he looked to put in an equally big jump at the 8th fence before seeming to change his mind just after take off and crashed through the fence. This knocked him back to 5th and despite getting back into contention never recovered the fluidity of earlier in the race. At the 4th last fence known as the downhill fence and when in 5th place Kauto Star fell awkwardly, landing on his neck. However to the relief of everyone at the track he got to his feet and seemed to be unscathed. In the end stablemate Denman finished second to Imperial Commander who won for the Nigel Twiston-Davies team. Kauto Star was readily applauded in front of the stands upon his return to the saddling area.
Kauto began his season winning the JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal for the 2nd time with a workmanlike performance but his round of fencing was faultless. It seems he was suffering no ill effects of his crashing fall in the Gold Cup the previous season.
King George VI Chase:
He went on to attempt to win a record breaking 5th consecutive King George in the rearranged meeting in January. Despite being at the veteran age of 11 he was still sent off the odds on favourite. But from the outset he was never travelling and jumping with any fluency and he looked beaten when blundering at the 2nd last, a mistake which cost him 2nd place.
In the aftermath of the race there were calls for the horse to be retired as there was a belief by many people that age had caught up with the great chaser. But it was found he was suffering from a low grade infection and had bled during the race. Paul Nicholls rubbished the idea of retiring him and said he would be heading to the Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup:
The Cheltenham Gold Cup marked the first time Kauto Star had not started favourite for a race since his first run outside novice company in November 2005. His starting price of 5/1 was also only the 3rd time since that day he had not started at odds on. The Gold Cup would prove that trainer Paul Nicholls was correct in not retiring the great champion, as he belied his age and alongside his titanic stablemate Denman, he put in a superb performance to finish 3rd behind Long Run the 7-2 favourite.
The race has been hailed as one of the best races of all time, 2 heroic veterans in Kauto and Denman dethroned by the brilliant young horse Long Run. It was the symbolic changing of the guard that befits this golden age of steeplechasers.
Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup:
Kauto Star ran in the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown (4 May), starting as 10/11 Favorite, however was pulled up by Ruby Walsh. The Irish jockey reported him after the race as 'never travelling'. Follow The Plan went on to win the race.
Speculation then surrounded potential retirement plans, although connections expressed interest in one more race.
The Betfair Chase:
On Saturday 19 November, Kauto Star made it four victories in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park having previously won the race in 2006, 2007 and 2009. He won by eight lengths from Long Run having made most of the running. Many hailed this as one of the greatest comebacks ever seen as Kauto Star had defeated his newest foe Long Run, the previous season's King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
King George VI Chase:
On the 26th of December 2011, Kauto Star became the first horse to win the King George VI Chase a record 5 times. He beat the previous season's Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George VI Chase winner Long Run by a length and a quarter, albeit with jockey Ruby Walsh stood up in his irons celebrating this monumentous occasion. He propelled his way into the history books overcoming Desert Orchid's 4 wins and to be remembered as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.
The 2011 season has shown so far that Kauto Star is not yet ready to hand over the mantel to the young pretender, Long Run until maybe he himself at least can achieve winning the Betfair Chase, King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season, creating his own destiny.
Records & Statistics:
Probably Kautos most impressive statistic is his record in Grade 1 Chases. In his first six years in Britain he competed in 18 Grade 1 races over distances from 2 miles to 3 & 1/4 miles. He completed 15, winning 14, with his solitary 2nd coming in the 2008 Gold Cup to his stablemate Denman.
With his 2011 Gold Cup 3rd Kauto kept his record of never finishing outside the places in any of his 27 completed races in his 7 seasons in Britain.
His official rating of 193 given after his 4th King George win was the highest ever awarded to a Steeplechaser.
He's the only horse to have won the King George 5 times.
He's the only horse to have ever regained the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He's the only horse to have ever won two separate Grade 1 (or Group 1) races over 4 times (Betfair Chase 4 times & King George 5 times). He also won both races under three different Prime Ministers!
He has won more prize money than any other National Hunt horse in the history of the sport*
He is the only horse to win Grade 1 races in 7 consecutive seasons.
He is the only horse to have won 16 Grade 1 races in total.
Along with Denman he has competed at the Cheltenham festival 6 times in a row, this is not a record (The Dikler ran in seven consecutive Gold Cups from 1970-76), but still a brilliant example of Paul Nicholls' training abilities.