By Simon Jackson.
Ruby Walsh has paid tribute to Kauto Star who has been put down after suffering neck and pelvic injuries in a fall in his paddock.
Walsh combined with the sublime chaser to win five King George VI Chases at Kempton Park where a statue of the horse now stands in the centre of the parade ring.
Kauto Star also won two Cheltenham Gold Cups under Walsh in a scintillating career that saw him win 23 of his 41 starts and close to £2.4 million in prize money.
Kauto Star was trained throughout his career by Paul Nicholls before being retired in 2012 after he was pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Kauto Star was a superstar and it’s a real shame that his life off the track has been cut short,” Walsh said on his Paddy Power blog. “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.
“He won two Gold Cups at Cheltenham and five King George VI Chases at Kempton as part of his 23 wins in 41 starts.
“He was so versatile winning Grade 1 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.
“I had some of my greatest days as a jockey on him. His last King George VI Chase win [when he beat Long Run in 2011] was fabulous.
In 2009 Kauto Star was the first horse to reclaim the Cheltenham Gold Cup when he reversed the placings of the previous year to beat his stablemate Denman.
Yet Walsh highlights the previous year as one of the best.
“Look at what he did in 2006/07,” Walsh continued: “He won his first Betfair Chase [two miles] at Haydock and then two weeks later won the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown [three miles]. He returned a month later to win the King George at Kempton [three miles], then the AON Chase at Newbury [two miles, seven furlongs] and capped the season by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup [three miles, two furlongs].
“That was phenomenal by any standard and it was great to be part of it. Kauto was very simply one of the greatest jump horses in history.”
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