Kauto Star used Boxing Day to write his name into the history of racing as the horse came away from the King George VI Chase with an unprecedented fifth victory in the Kempton Park race. The 11-year-old strode home one and a quarter lengths ahead of rival Long Run and at the same time leveled their career head-to-head at two victories each. The race meant that jockey Ruby Walsh has never lost on the horse and has many comparing it to one of the greats, Arkle.
Owner Paul Nicholls paid tribute to Kauto Star as his best, stating: “When he’s right like that, he’s still as good as ever. He’s come in here and he’s hardly having a blow. He used to be like that when he was at his best, whereas last year he was out on his feet. The reception shows what a great horse he is and why jumps racing is so popular. Six times he’s been here now, and he’s won five and finished third in the other. I’ll never have another horse like him.”
In the days leading to the race, a number of the country’s bookies were pointing to it being a record day for betting. The Daily Mail reported that Ladbrokes were predicting that records could be smashed as punters got ready to spend as much as £35-40m being spent on the head-to-head between the two horses. There was even reports that this could come close to £100m in turnover when combined with the money from Premier League. Every indication is that the day lived up these expectations
All eyes will now be on Cheltenham in March when Long Run and Kauto Star renew their rivalry in the Gold Cup. The latter’s limp performance last year means that he trails Long Run in the betting despite his stellar performance at Kempton. Paddy Power has Long Run out in front at 5/2 with Kauto Star at 7/2 and the nearest challenger Grand Crus at 10/1.