Before the racing at Haydock last Saturday a statue was unveiled in honour of Kauto Star. Betfair Chase day was just the right time to do this, as Kauto Star won that race four times, most recently last season.
Then, he was almost retired before the race, but came out to record an eight-length win over Long Run, before going on to score another win over the same horse in a record breaking fifth King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The statue is half the size of the real thing, and was cast by former jockey Will Newton, whose workshop is close to the Paul Nicholls stable in Somerset. Kauto Star brought along his trainer and owner Clive Smith to see it revealed. Nicholls commented, “He’s in as good a shape as ever. We’re very happy to have retired him at the top when he was in such good shape.”
Later, head lad Clifford Baker, who had taken the horse through his preparation work all through his racing career, partnered Kauto Star. They received a huge welcome in the parade ring and on the course as they led the parade for the Betfair Chase.
Smith said, “It’s quite emotional, it really is. He looks fantastic. Clifford is the man who has ridden him every day, and it’s lovely to see him right there and the horse enjoying himself, kicking and bucking like he always has done.”
Meanwhile plans in Newmarket to honour the achievements of Frankel and Sir Henry Cecil look unlikely to progress for the time being.
Trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam has suggested putting a statue on a roundabout at the entrance to the town. There is one of a stallion at the July Course roundabout, which represents the stud farms round Newmarket, and Chapple-Hyam has suggested Frankel could go at the other end to represent racing. As the suggestion is for a statue in a public place, it is far more difficult to secure permission than for something done on a private facility like a racecourse.
The local town council has three members representing racing, though none of them sit on the Leisure Services Committee, which discussed a range of ideas to recognise what Frankel has done. A Civic Reception appears a distinct possibility, but the most that Newmarket Town Council can do for a permanent recognition is to support the idea. It doesn’t have the authority to award planning permission - that will be dealt with by a committee of Forest Heath District Council.
With no funding to put into the scheme, the council has batted the idea firmly back to Chapple-Hyam. Unless the trainers themselves come up with the money, it’s an idea that could well remain just that. I can understand why she has suggested a monument in a complete public place, but unless there’s a way to progress this quickly, it will rather lose its point.
Perhaps Newmarket racecourse could follow the lead set by Haydock and provide a timely recognition of Frankel somewhere on the track. Unveiling it on 2,000 Guineas day next year would be perfect, as that’s the race where we first saw the awesome power and potential of the horse.