17/12/09: History is at stake on Boxing Day, Saturday 26th December, 2009, reports the British Horseracing Authority.Kauto Star, one of Racing’s most heroic horses, bids to equal a record set by the legendary Desert Orchid, the only horse to record four wins in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse.
But, if Kauto Star claims the Boxing Day crown, he will outdo Dessie to become the only horse in history to have won this historic race four times on the trot.
Speaking exclusively to BHA Xtra, Kauto Star’s trainer, Paul Nicholls said that victory in the King George will place Kauto as one of the all time greats. “I think you have to say he is up there with the very best of all time having won three King Georges already, two Gold Cups, two Tingle Creeks and three Betfair Chases. No horse has ever won four King Georges on the bounce and if he did that, you’d have to say he was one of the very best,” said Paul.
The race is one of the year’s most prestigious Grade 1 Jump races, when a host of top racehorses will display their skills over 18 fences and 3 miles. Kauto Star will also be facing perhaps his biggest challenge yet, when he squares up to the improving Imperial Commander, a horse he only narrowly beat in the memorable Betfair Chase at Haydock Park.
As the centrepiece of an action-packed programme of top-class jumping over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, Kempton’s Winter Festival provides a feast of entertainment for a bumper crowd. In recognition of one of the greatest jump horses, the BHA brings you 26 facts about Kauto Star in the build up to the race on 26 December, courtesy of the man who knows him best, trainer Paul Nicholls:
- Kauto Star stands at 16.3hh (1.6m from the floor to the shoulder) and weighs around 520–530kg (81–83 stone). Kauto Star’s weight is nearly seven times more than that of an average male.
- His average speed in the 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup was 29.4mph. Usain Bolt’s average speed in running the 100m was 25.42mph.
- He became the first horse to win over £2 million in total prize money, with £1,898,634 of this made in the UK. Desert Orchid won £654,066 during his career.
- Kauto Star became the first horse to regain Jump Racing’s greatest prize when he reclaimed the Cheltenham Gold Cup from stablemate, Denman, in March 2009. He is likely to face his biggest rival once again in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
- He eats four meals a day, each consisting of high-protein racehorse cubes, an easily-digestible food that is low in starch and high in energy; he has one meal is for breakfast, one for lunch and two for dinner. This is two meals a day more than an average horse.
- Kauto’s next race will be the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse which, during WWII, was closed to be used as a prisoner of war reception area.
- His neighbour and best friend at his stable in Ditcheat, Somerset is Denman. They spend 8 weeks together in the paddock over the summer months, together with other stars, Big Buck’s and Master Minded.
- There are six Kauto horses in total registered with the British Horseracing Authority: Kauto Star has two half-brothers, Kauto The Kid and Kauto Relko, and the others are named Kauto Cyreo, Kauto Ray and Kauto the Roc.
- The largest amount bet on Kauto Star through William Hill in the 2008 King George at Kempton Park was £30,000.
- Kauto was at his most upset when Denman suffered from heart problems in 2008 and spent a week away from the stable. He paced his stable for the whole week and only stopped when Denman returned.
- He has run a total of over 55 miles and has jumped over 1,500 feet in his racing career in Britain and Ireland; that’s over 4-times the height of St Paul’s Cathedral.
- It costs around £17,000 every year to keep Kauto Star, through training fees, entry fees, food and stabling.
- Kauto Star gets through around 20 sets of steel shoes at home every year. On top of this, he also gets through around five sets of aluminium racing plates throughout the year. That’s 100 shoes a year in total.
- Kauto Star was bred in France, where he became known as ‘L’Extraterrestre’ which translates to ‘The Extraterrestrial’.
- He works out six days a week and takes every Sunday off. He also likes to go to bed early, with lights out in the yard at 6pm.
- He was born on the 19th March in the Millennium year, making him 9 years old. But, like all racehorses, he becomes a year older on January 1st.
- He has raced 21 times in Britain and once in Ireland, winning 15 of these races.
- Nineteen of these rides have been for Ruby Walsh, one for Mick Fitzgerald and two for Sam Thomas.
- Kauto’s owner Clive Smith made his fortune designing public golf courses and his purple, yellow and green racing colours are taken from the heather-clad scenery of Camberley Heath golf course, where he was once captain.
- Kauto is trained on a gallop that climbs 230ft.
- Bloodstock agent, Anthony Bromley, found Kauto Star in France in 2004. He bought him on behalf Clive Smith for 400,000 euros (around £364,000).
- At his home, Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, he is looked after by Nick Childs, who spends all his time with him and treats him like his own pet according to trainer, Paul Nicholls. He is ridden out every day by Head Lad, Clifford Baker.
- Kauto ran the three miles of the 2008 King George race in a time of 5:57minutes. He was carrying a weight of 11stone 10lb when he did this and jumped a total height of 25.2m in the race.
- Every day after training, Kauto Star digs up his bed and then has to have a roll around, much to the exasperation of his stable lads.
- Kauto Star has recently taken the starring role in a film to promote Somerset.
- The county boasts three star trainers in Paul Nicholls, David Pipe and Phillip Hobbs, all of whom are based there. Paul Nicholls exercises his horses on Ditcheat Hill, where the winners of 60 Grade 1 races in the last 10 years have been trained.
UPDATE: Kauto Star won the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park Racecourse on Boxing Day, 26 December 2009 – and history was made!