Christmas 2009 saw Kauto Star elevated to a place among the equine gods as he took his fourth consecutive King George VI Chase in fine style. He came into the race having laid some old demons and foes – most of all he had regained his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown from his stablemate Denman by beating him 13 lengths at the Festival having been pummelled into submission by Denman and Den-mania the year before.
His preparation had not gone smoothly and he possibly had exerted himself above and beyond the call of duty at Haydock when winning the Betfair Chase by a nose from Imperial Commander a race that many believed he was beaten in until he rallied close home. But partnered by Ruby Walsh in the King George for the fourth time he set a gallop that was guaranteed to expose any weakness in his rivals and when they jumped the last the field was trailing in his wake, in fact it would be truer to say that it was Kauto Star first, daylight second and the rest nowhere to be seen.
He won by the official margin of a “distance” – which encompasses any number of lengths from 25 upwards the true reflection of his superiority was 36 lengths which if taken literally and it should be on this occasion meant that he had run to handicap mark of around 190, a mark rarely if ever seen and many were led to proclaim that they had never seen better. People looking at the King George chase betting should remember this.
This was one of the definitive performances of all time from a chaser who was starting to take a special place in the public’s affections although that love had probably taken longer to ignite than it should have, but was fully requited after the completion of the four-timer.
Ultimately it looked as though this performance had proved too much for Kauto Star as he subsequently fell in the Gold Cup, was defeated twice by Long Run in the last running of the King George and the same horse again defeated him at Cheltenham in the Gold Cup, before he was pulled-up at Punchestown in May this year. It looked as though that 2009 King George performance was one that the public and his fans were going to have to remember until Kauto rolled back the years in the Betfair Chase in November to set himself up for another clash with Long Run and perhaps a date with destiny and a fifth King George VI Chase. Fans of Betfair should bear this in mind.
Kauto Star regained his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown, imagine the outpouring of emotion and love if he could do the same at Kempton Park on Boxing Day in his beloved King George VI Chase – he couldn’t, could he?