Ruby Walsh pays tribute to 'horse of a lifetime' Kauto Star

RacingBy Sunday World
Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh on their way to winning the 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh on their way to winning the 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Ruby Walsh remembered Kauto Star as a "true heavyweight" following the death of the chaser he steered to 17 of his 19 victories in Britain and Ireland, including two Cheltenham Gold Cups and five King Georges.

The rider believes he should go down as one of the greatest National Hunt horses of all time, but that comparisons with Arkle are unfair.

"He had some hard races and took some heavy falls and kept coming back," Walsh said.

"He was a true heavyweight and it was a pleasure to be associated with him.

"I am too young to remember Arkle, and it is very unfair to compare horses from different eras.

"To me in his era he was the best. He had the longevity and he won the most races and it is some feat to turn up and win any race five times, let alone a Grade One King George."

Walsh's association with the French import did have its blips, remounting after a fall in a three-runner race at Exeter in 2005, during which the 2-11 favourite suffered an injury, and was also in the saddle when he fell in both the 2006 Champion Chase and the 2010 Gold Cup.

But it is another race that Walsh will remember less fondly, a nose defeat to Our Vic at Aintree in 2008.

He told Racing UK: "If I was to ride one race on him again it would the Betfair Bowl at Aintree.

"I went too soon on him that day, but that can't be changed. I loved riding him and enjoyed every day I rode him.

"He was lucky to get up when he fell in the Champion Chase and he was very lucky to get up in the Gold Cup. There were low points, but there were great points that he got up.

"I can't say I overly enjoyed having to ride him out at Ditcheat. He was quite spooky and took his chances schooling but on the racecourse he was dead straightforward. You could drop him in, make the running on him. He had everything."

He added in his Paddy Power blog: "Kauto Star was a superstar and it's a real shame that his life off the track has been cut short.

"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. How could you? Just look at his record.

"Kauto, very simply, was one of the greatest jump horses in history."