Where and when?
Kempton Park racecourse, Surrey on 26 December 2011
When the Paul Nicholls’ trained Kauto Star stormed to victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day in 2011, he ripped up the record books, taking the title for a record fifth time and beating Desert Orchid’s four King George triumphs.
Kauto Star, who started at 3-1, jumped the final fences perfectly and just tired a touch on the run-in, allowing the staying-on Long Run to get to his tail — but the crowd erupted as Kauto Star passed the post in front.
Bred in France by Mrs Henri Aubert (Village Star x Port Etienne), the bay gelding was owned by Clive Smith. He first won the King George in 2006 under Ruby Walsh, and proceeded to win it with the jockey in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011 — just missing out in 2010 to Long Run.
“He’s amazing,” said Paul Nicholls after his 2011 win. “I knew we had him in serious order. He’s just the best.”
Ruby Walsh joked: “He’s got the hang of it now, hasn’t he?”
The late commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan said: “That was lovely to see. This is just a marvellous racehorse and a wonderful training performance from Paul Nicholls to keep him sound and enthusiastic for so long and keep improving him.”
During his career, Kauto Star won £3,775,883, including taking the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009. He also won the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park in 2005 and 2006.
What happened next?
After his retirement he moved to event rider Laura Collet’s yard in Lambourn to be retrained for dressage. The popular gelding was put down at the age of 15 following a field accident in June 2015, and a box of his ashes were laid to rest under his statue at Kempton Park.
There is also a bar named after him at Kempton Park, packed with memorabilia of his successes, that opened in February 2012.
For the full report and analysis from the 2017 King George VI Chase, don’t miss the 4 January 2018 issue of Horse & Hound magazine