Ruby Walsh celebrates his 42nd birthday today and there’s no more fitting tribute to pay than the Irishman’s win in the King George aboard the great Kauto Star back in 2011 – the gelding’s fifth success in the contest.
The legendary son of Village Star, who won 20 of his 36 career starts, secured five victories from his six outings at the Sunbury-on-Thames track for handler Paul Nicholls between 2006 and 2011, cruising to Christmas glory under Walsh on the quintet of occasions.
His only King George loss was in January 2011, when he was beaten by Long Run and Riverside Theatre under AP McCoy.
Speaking to Paddy Power, Walsh saluted Kauto Star: “I was delighted to win a second Gold Cup in 2009 – it’s the biggest race of the year – but I didn’t give myself an extra pat on the back because I stuck with Kauto Star.
“It was brilliant to be on his back, and he was some racehorse. Even when he came back to win a fifth King George in 2011… he was a horse that I loved.
“You think about some of the hard races he had, and some of the falls he took… the race he had behind Denman, when he was flat to the boards and not on his A game, he ran himself into the ground and still came back the following year. He was an incredible athlete.”