Nicholls: “The end of an era has arrived”
Wednesday 31 October 2012
Paul Nicholls has confirmed the brilliant Kauto Star has run his final race after compiling an amazing record including victories in two Cheltenham Gold Cups and five King George VI Chases.
The 12-year-old was pulled up on his final start in last season's Gold Cup and connections have taken their time to make a final decision over whether he should race on, but the champion trainer and owner Clive Smith have decided to call time on a fabulous career.
Speaking in his Betfair column, Nicholls said: "The end of an era has finally arrived. Clive was here this morning and we have taken the decision to retire Kauto Star."
Nicholls revealed in September connections would consider giving the legendary chaser one last run in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, but after seeing him on the gallops in recent weeks, he feels now is the right time to draw stumps.
He went on: "We have had nine superb years with the horse but, after seeing him in his work these past few weeks, myself, Clifford (Baker, head lad) and Dan (Skelton, assistant trainer) were of the opinion that the time had arrived to retire him. The final decision rested with Clive, but he agreed that the horse had done enough.
"Don't get me wrong, Kauto looks and feels as vibrant as ever, as those who saw him at our owners' Open Day last month would testify to. He was mad fresh that day and continues to be as alert as ever and very, very well in himself. But I suspect Kauto will be like that when he is 20 years old.
"And, deep down, we know he has done enough - and in some ways I think we have to protect him from himself. And maybe ourselves, too. If he did go to Kempton and win or run well, would you really want to run him - or be able to resist the temptation - in the Gold Cup? I am not so sure.
"Kauto is signing off in full health and after a season in which he proved so many people wrong by winning a fifth King George and a fourth Betfair Chase, to add to his two Cheltenham Gold Cups and Tingle Creeks. He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse."
Nicholls added: "Ever since he won on his debut for me at Newbury on December 29, 2004, the horse has consistently proved himself a class apart. But sometimes, you have to listen to your head and your heart, and both told me that retirement was the only option.
"Knowing Kauto, he would still be coming back in after grass at the age of 14 still looking and working brilliantly, and giving us that burning question to answer. Delaying my honest take on the retirement question would have probably been just selfishness and stubbornness on my part."
Kauto Star Factfile:
Sire: Village Star
Dam: Kauto Relka
Foaled: March 19, 2000 in France
Owner: Clive Smith
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockeys since arriving in Britain: Ruby Walsh, Mick Fitzgerald, Sam Thomas and Tony McCoy
Career earnings: £2,375,883
Race record: 23 wins from 41 starts, including 16 victories at Grade One level.
Major races won: Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007 and 2009), King George VI Chase (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011), Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011), Tingle Creek Chase (2005 and 2006), Ascot Chase (2008), JNwine.com Champion Chase (2008 and 2010), AON Chase (2007).