Farewell King Kauto

I knew this was coming, obviously, and it’s sad, but I’m delighted that Kauto Star has got out in one piece.

Kauto Star was simply the best I have ever ridden, or am likely to ride. He had everything, guts, determination, durability and the ability to fight back when defeat was staring him in the face.

It was a privilege to be associated with the horse and he gave me my greatest days in racing.

His record speaks for itself, the winner of the King George on five occasions and two successes in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, to go with numerous other major victories.

On top of that, of course, he is the only horse in history to regain the Gold Cup, after losing the trophy.

As far as I am concerned he was the horse of a lifetime and I will always be grateful to Paul Nicholls and Clive Smith for putting their trust in me.

Paul is a great trainer, Clive a great owner and then you had terrific staff at Paul’s looking after Kauto.

He was fabulous and nothing ever fazed him. He did it left-handed, right-handed, on flat and undulating tracks and, most importantly, over every distance.

Kauto had the speed to win at two miles and then the speed and endless stamina to be just as effective over three and a quarter.

Take the first year he landed the Gold Cup, 2007, for instance. That season he also won the Tingle Creek at Sandown, over two miles, and then the three-mile King George at Kempton.

If you sit down and think about that for a second then you can only describe such an achievement as quite extraordinary.

And there was also the little matter of a £1m bonus that Kauto Star landed for those three wins.

I loved everything about the horse and he was a dream to ride. There was always something to look forward to when he was around and I adored the pressure that came with him.

What was our best day? There is no one answer to that question, because there were so many.

That first Gold Cup, when we beat Exotic Dancer by two and a half lengths, has to be high on the list.

I always wanted to win the Gold Cup and when Kauto did the business the feeling was everything, and more, I had hoped it would be.

Then there was the manner in which Kauto bounced back to win his fifth King George.

In May of last year it looked as if he was finished. He ran at Punchestown in the Guinness Gold Cup and I had to pull him up.

I suppose deep down I believed that would the last day I’d ride him and the vast majority of the public had to think the same.

But Paul and Clive had other ideas and so in November we arrived at Haydock for the Betfair Chase.

What followed was a real fairytale. Kauto was amazing and we destroyed Long Run to the tune of eight lengths. I could hardly credit it and we returned to the most magical of receptions, with Paul at his most animated. Paul was certainly entitled to be more than pleased with himself.

And then to put the icing on the cake, Kauto went on to Kempton and beat Long Run again in the King George.

Last March I pulled him up in the Gold Cup and, I suppose, it was inevitable that was to be our swansong. I have absolutely no regrets and will be forever grateful to the mighty Kauto.

Someone asked me yesterday what life will be like without him. Listen, life goes on and I have those wonderful memories to treasure.

You always have to look ahead in this game and the plan now is to find the next Kauto Star. Mind you, I wouldn’t be overly hopeful about that!

I’ll finish talking about him in this way. If I have a bad day at the office there is one sure way of putting a smile back on my face.

All I have to do is watch one of his races and that will do it every time. There will never be another Kauto Star, at least for me.

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