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KEMPTON SPECIALISTS: KAUTO STAR

Kauto Star and the King George were a match made in heaven for Paul Nicholls

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C9GKCD 26.12.2011 Sunbury, England. (L-R) Ruby Walsh and Kauto Star (FR), Owner Clive Smith and Trainer Paul Nicholls celebrate winning in the parade ring after the 15:10 William Hill King George VI Chase (Grade 1) (Class 1), part of The William Hill Winter Festival on Boxing Day at Kempton Park Racecourse

The King George is one of the most prestigious races in the National Hunt sphere, and it is considered an honour just to participate in the contest.

Winning the Grade 1 race at Kempton is a special achievement for many, while only 15 horses have claimed multiple successes in the event.

Wayward Lad set a new record when landing a King George hat-trick between 1983 and 1985, which was quickly beaten by Desert Orchid after claiming four victories in five years in the late ’80s.

It is thought that David Elsworth’s immortal star would hold that record for many years to come, with a truly special horse needing to burst out onto the scene to challenge the monumental achievement.

That contender appeared only 16 years later, in the form of Kauto Star.

Kauto Star
Kauto Star is widely believed to one of the greatest chasers in living memory

Going off as odds-on favourite for the 2006 renewal, Paul Nicholls’ gelding did what was required in a less than impressive display.

It was argued that the weaker field helped his chances of success after he made two heart-in-mouth blunders and still managed to claim victory.

But Kauto Star wiped all memory of that performance a year later, with an emphatic showing to land his second King George victory.

With stablemate Denman threatening his stature in the chasing division, the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner produced a top-draw performance at Kempton as he bolted clear of Exotic Dancer to win by 11 lengths.

Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls described Kauto Star as a “horse of a lifetime”.

The hat-trick was complete in 2008 as he set a new record at the track, cruising through the field to take the lead at four out and going on to win by eight lengths.

Kauto Star produced arguably his best performance of his career in the 2009 renewal, stating his superiority as he cleared away after the third last to win by an incredible 36 lengths and match Desert Orchid’s record.

WATCH: KAUTO STAR CLEARS AWAY IN THE 2009 KING GEORGE [CREDIT: RACING TV]

He didn’t look at his best when finishing third in the 2010 edition and it was beginning to look like his age was catching up with him, but Nicholls’ star found one more big run in him to etch himself into racing history.

Going off at 3/1, he battled against Nicky Henderson’s Long Run in one of the most thrilling King George finishes in modern history, with Kauto Star holding off the challenge to land an unprecedented fifth success in the contest.

watch: kauto star wins the 2011 king george at kempton [credit: racing tv]

Five Grade 1 victories is impressive enough, but to land them in the same contest is near enough unheard of.

A Kempton specialist in his own right, Kauto Star tops the list in this category without a doubt.

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