A true Star! Fans line the streets to celebrate record-breaking Kauto
A crowd cheered Kauto Star as he was given a victory celebration through the village of Ditcheat in Somerset where champion trainer Paul Nicholls is based.
Camera crews had arrived at Nicholls” stable from early in the morning as the achievement of winning an unprecedented fifth King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day began to sink in.
Kauto Star’s image had been plastered across both the front and back pages of the newspapers, and even prompted a phone-in discussion on sporting excellence on BBC Radio 5Live.
Centre of attention: Kauto Star is led by head lad Clifford Baker and stable lass Rose Loxton
Looking calm and collected amid cheers of support, Kauto Star also had his stable decorated with celebratory letters and cards from local children.
Kate Miller of William Hill, sponsors of the King George, said: ‘Kauto looked full of beans despite his exertions 24 hours earlier and seem to take all the attention in his stride.’
Nicholls added: ‘It’s fantastic. To see him on the front page of the papers and on the television news is great for the horse and great for racing., There have been a lot of people here wanting to see him.
‘To be the first horse to win five King Georges along with his two Gold Cups, two Tingle Creek Chases and four Betfair Chases is awesome. I’m biased but I think he is the best ever.’
Delight: Paul Nicholls shows his affection for the legendary horse
Nicholls took part in the parade, along with head lad Clifford Baker, stable lass Rose Loxton and Clifford”s daughter Charlotte.
Fans lined the main road to offer a warm applause to the horse who refuses to be pushed into retirement.
Jockey Ruby Walsh praised Kauto Star as an all-time great steeplechaser as the gelding made history with the win.
Walsh, the jockey on board Kauto Star for 17 of his 23 wins, also singled out the gelding”s amazing durability during a career stretching back to March 2003.
Packed streets: Huge crowds gathered to greet Kauto Star in Ditcheat
Leading the way: Kauto Star observes the scenes in the village
Walsh said: “This horse keeps coming back, that is what makes him so brilliant. The weak don”t last in any walk of life but the tough do.
“You can say what you want about the best steeplechasers of all time, but he has outlasted them all. He has gone on as long as Desert Orchid. Arkle did not last as long and neither did Mill House. That”s what makes him brilliant.”
Nicholls believes Kauto Star has earned the right to be Gold Cup favourite.
He said: “He might be 11 years old but he acts like he is eight. He is still as good as ever. He has come back hardly blowing and he used to be like that at his best.
“He was never right last season. In hindsight, I think it took him a while to get over his fall (in the 2010 Gold Cup). I”ll never have another like him.”