The week ahead: Kauto Star
I’ve lost and gained in my time on racecourses. Money obviously, but other stuff too, stuff which is mainly unquantifiable. I’ve not been racing for nearly a year and because of other demands on my time I haven’t kept up with ever-changing minutiae of the sport. By which I mean I rarely look at the form and although I check the Racing Post site most days, I rarely click beyond the main headlines.
I still love horses and racing, but without the time for the study I no longer gamble. Mindlessly backing horses I know nothing about just doesn’t appeal. This Friday is the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Kauto Star, the horse featured on the blog’s header, is likely to run against last year’s Young Pretender who in fact lifted the prize, Long Run. Kauto took a nasty fall at home recently and his participation, let alone his winning, have looked uncertain. Noises from the yard are now positive and the racing world is crossing its collective fingers, not just for the horse to run, but to run and jump safely home.
I don’t have to look at a single piece of form to know about this race. To feel the race in prospect quickening my heart and, equally, if I let it, tattering my nerves. Kauto Star is 12. He has won the King George at Kempton a record 5 times. He is going for his 3rd Gold Cup win, if he runs; the stable will confirm or otherwise tomorrow, but the sounds coming out of there are all positive. Kauto Star is the kind of rare athlete and superstar that superlatives, often frittered away in racing journalism, were made for.
The last horse to win 3 Gold Cups was the flawless Best Mate. Others who achieved the same feat, Arkle and Cottage Rake, were outside my lifetime. Then there was Golden Miller who won a straight 5 Gold Cups on the bounce between 1932 and 1936 – click here for videos of these and other Cheltenham legends. At 12 Kauto Star is never going to achieve that number, but with his King George victories a 3rd Gold Cup would put him right up there with Golden Miller, to my mind.
I am not one for debating who was the best National Hunt horse across the centuries, but I know special, special, special when I see it and, whatever happens this week, Kauto Star is staying as this blog’s header shot for a very long time to come.