KAUTO Star, the best steeplechaser since Arkle, was retired because he had nothing left to prove, admitted champion trainer Paul Nicholls after calling time on the career of his stable star.
“Deep down, we knew he had done enough and in some ways I think we have to protect him from himself,” said Nicholls following weeks of soul-searching about the 12-year-old veteran’s future and whether he could win a sixth King George next month.
“After seeing him in his work over these past few weeks, we were of the opinion that the time had come to retire him. Don’t get me wrong, Kauto looks and feels as vibrant as ever but I suspect that he will be like that when he is 20-years-old.”
The champion will remain at the yard of Nicholls, who is set to saddle rising star Silviniaco Conti in Saturday’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
However, it is owner Clive Smith’s wish that Kauto Star has an active retirement.
The crowd-pleaser last raced competitively in March when he was pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup; jockey Ruby Walsh taking no chances with his “horse of a lifetime,” who suffered an uncharacteristic gallops fall prior to racing’s blue riband contest.
The crowd’s spontaneous mid-race ovation was indicative of a horse that had won two Gold Cups, four Betfair Chases and racked up five victories in Boxing Day’s iconic King George Chase, the last of which came nearly 12 months ago amid delirious scenes.
Even more consistent than Desert Orchid, 16 out of Kauto Star’s 19 victories came at Group One level – an unrivalled level of consistency.
He also had the versatility to excel at every distance from two miles to the Gold Cup trip of three-and-a-quarter miles.
Victorious in jump racing’s most revered race in 2007, he became the first horse to regain the crown two years later following another epic duel with stablemate Denman.