After the Cheltenham Gold Cup last March, Clive Smith, owner of Kauto Star, said it was 90% certain that the horse would be retired and would not race again. And whilst that is still the most likely scenario, there is more than a glimmer of hope for a possible last race or two this season.
Kauto was the star of yesterday’s owners’ day at Paul Nicholls' Somerset yard, and trainer and owner put on a united front about the future of Britain’s favourite jumps horse. The message was simple – 'we haven’t decided yet, so you’ll have to wait and see'.
Smith had said after Cheltenham “Someone will have to come up with a very good reason for me not to retire him.” Maybe they have, as yesterday he took the view that an attempt at a sixth King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day was not out of the question. And perhaps that someone is Paul Nicholls himself.
The trainer said, “As Kauto has just come back in, it would be too much of a rush to get him ready for the Betfair Chase in November. And I have advised Clive not to take him back to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup again as the track doesn’t suit him so well nowadays. Besides, Kempton is his favourite track, and the King George is his favourite race, so that’s the logical one to aim at.”
If Nicholls sounded excited at the prospect of one final hurrah, Smith sounded a little more cautious, perhaps mindful of the weight of opinion he’s heard over the summer. His view was one everyone will appreciate. He said, “This will be one of the hardest decisions to make. He’s still the top-rated chaser, but he’ll shortly be 13 and age is going to catch up with him sometime. Over the summer I’ve been to Wimbledon, the Open golf, and the Olympics and people have been asking after Kauto. They all want to see him retired. The public can rest assured we will not take any risks with him.”