JOCKEY Ruby Walsh has paid tribute to Kauto Star after the record-breaking steeplechaser’s retirement was confirmed yesterday.
The Paul Nicholls-trained 12-year-old became the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup and made history last year by winning a fifth King George VI Chase.
Walsh, who partnered him on each of those occasions, said: “He’s the horse of my lifetime. I’m very lucky to be the one who got to ride him.
“He was an incredible horse from the beginning, from when he won his novice chase in Newbury all the way to his fifth King George. He’s got me to places I didn’t think I’d ever be.
“He had a few knocks and a few setbacks but he was always an exceptional horse and tough horse. He came back from hard races and heavy falls.
“He just kept coming back and getting back up to Grade One level again. I have some amazing memories. I loved every minute of riding him.”
Nicholls called it “the end of an era”, while owner Clive Smith said the French import had “done enough” after “a magnificent career”.
He added: “It’s been the journey of a lifetime. He’s a wonderful, wonderful horse and a good friend of mine.”
Kauto Star’s retirement comes less than a fortnight after unbeaten flat racing star Frankel, the world’s top-rated racehorse, won his 14th and final outing.
Foaled: 19 March 2000
Breeding: Village Star-Kauto Relka
Owner: Clive Smith
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Regular jockey: Ruby Walsh
Prize money: £2.4m
Debut: March 2003, Bordeaux (finished second)
Major wins: 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)