Kauto Star made jump racing history at Kempton today when he won a record fourth consecutive William Hill King George VI Chase.
Desert Orchid won the race four times but in five years and now just about the only thing the late great grey still has over the Paul Nicholls-trained modern great is in a popularity contest.
It was, however, by far Kauto Star’s most impressive win of the four and he was probably facing his strongest opposition yet in the race — only Denman was missing. He relished the strong gallop and came home like a fresh horse a distance clear of Madison Du Berlais and Barbers Shop, with long-time leader Nacarat putting in a game effort in fourth. All of them were out on their feet in the scramble for the line, while Kauto Star was already jig-jogging half way back to the winner’s enclosure.
“He was brilliant,” said trainer Paul Nicholls, who was winning the race for a sixth time, also a record. “Since Haydock he’s been blooming. Everything at home suggested it. With targets like this and the Gold Cup you don’t have them at their best for their first run.
“He’s a real little professional now, he jumps, he’s relaxed, he’s grown up. He’ll be a hard horse to beat here next year and if he stays sound he’ll be hard to beat at Cheltenham — I don’t care what [horses] he’s up against. It was testing enough out there today and I don’t even think that [mud] will stop him at Cheltenham in this form.”
Ruby Walsh, in the saddle on all four occasions, never had a moment’s worry. “You think some of the hard races he’s had would be starting to catch up with him, but he just gets better,” he said.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report from Kempton, on sale Thursday 7 January, 2010