Kauto Star finally silenced his critics when taking the Grade One Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of the Cheltenham Festival, on Friday afternoon but there was still his customary heart-stopping moment along the way.
Ruby Walsh tucked the 5-4 favourite on the rail, keeping him in seventh or eighth for the early part of the race as Beef Or Salmon took them along up front. With plenty of cover, Kauto Star jumped well and was travelling supremely as he made his move up the inside four out.
However, jockeyship is a big part of the Gold Cup, and with a wall of horses in front of him, Walsh was forced to go wide as they turned in. Kauto Star responded impressively, quickening with ease when an opening came and pulling away from the field after clearing the penultimate fence. But, as racegoers have seen all season, Kauto Star always treats one fence with utter disdain and in this case it was the last, which he ploughed through to gasps from the crowd.
Not the ideal way to clear a fence, but nothing could stop Kauto Star in the Gold Cup
Yet nothing seems to interrupt the geldings rhythm and, despite the blunder, he stormed up the run-in with only Exotic Dancer in pursuit.That one finished two lengths back in second, with 40-1 outsider Turpin Green running a big race for third.
Walsh and winning trainer Paul Nicholls could not hide their delight after the race. Owner Clive Smith picked up the £1million Betfair Bonus for Kauto Star completing a memorable three-timer this season – the Betfair Chase, King George and Gold Cup.
Don’t miss H&H’s in-depth Cheltenham coverage next week (22 March)