Ruby Walsh: Kauto Star was the greatest chaser I sat on ... I've nothing but great memories
Published 30/06/2015 | 13:01
Ruby Walsh has paid tribute to the best chaser he has ever ridden following the tragic death of Kauto Star following a paddock accident which saw the horse suffer pelvis and neck injuries.
During a glittering career with champion trainer Paul Nicholls, the 15-year-old won the King George VI Chase at Kempton five times and became the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He retired from racing after pulling up in the 2012 renewal of the blue riband having won 23 of his 41 races and winning well over £2million in win and place prize-money.
Ruby Walsh steered Kauto Star to 17 of his 19 victories in Britain and Ireland combined and believes he should go down as one of the greatest National Hunt horses of all time.
He said in his Paddy Power blog: "Kauto Star was a superstar and it's a real shame that his life off the track has been cut short.
"He was a wonderful horse to ride and he gave me some of the best days I'll ever have as a jockey.
"He was without a doubt the best chaser I've ever ridden - a horse in a lifetime. I'll never ride one as good as him again. How could you? Just look at his record.
"He won two Gold Cups at Cheltenham and five King George VI chases at Kempton. I even won three Betfair chases on him (he's won four). He was just incredible for me, trainer Paul Nicholls, owner Clive Smith and all the team at Ditcheat, every time he stepped onto a racecourse .
"He was so versatile winning Grade One chases over distances ranging from two miles to three and a quarter miles. To have the speed to burn off crack two-mile chasers but still have the stamina to out-stay top-class chasers in wars of attrition over three miles plus was just incredible. You very rarely get that combination in a racehorse.
"Kauto, very simply, was one of the greatest jump horses in history.
"Kauto Star was brilliant and I have nothing but great memories from my association with him."
Sam Thomas was most famous for riding Kauto Star's great stable companion and rival Denman, beating Kauto Star in the 2008 Gold Cup.
However, he did partner Kauto Star to a narrow victory in the Betfair Chase earlier that season.
He said: "It's obviously very sad. It's tragic after all the years of racing at the top level, risking life and limb, and then getting injured in the paddock.
"I have very fond memories of him and I'm very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. I just count myself lucky to have played a very small part in his career.
"He was a completely different horse to ride to Denman, but he was an amazing horse to ride.
"He was so game and gave his all every time. He was a true professional.
"There's not many horses who can go and do what he's done and credit to Paul for mapping out his career.
"It's a shame it's ended as it has."
Mick Fitzgerald was lucky enough to ride Kauto Star once during his stunning career, steering him to his first Grade One victory in the 2005 Tingle Creek at Sandown.
He said: "It's very sad. I just want to remember the horse from his racing days, as I'm sure everybody does. He should be remembered as a true champion.
"I had an unbelievable spin off him in the Tingle Creek. He was going round in second gear in one of the fastest two-mile chases of the whole season.
"He was brilliantly trained by Paul Nicholls. To get a horse to win those sort of races so consistently is testament to Paul's ability to get the job done.
"But let's not forget, it was Kauto Star did who did the racing. He dug deep when he needed to and the roar he got after he won that Gold Cup back again showed you what it meant to everybody involved with the horse."