Incredible Kauto bows out
Paul Nicholls has confirmed the incredible Kauto Star has run his final race.
The winner of two Cheltenham Gold Cups and five King George VI Chases, Kauto Star was pulled up on his final start in last season's Gold Cup.
Connections have taken their time to make a final decision over whether the 12-year-old should race on, but the champion trainer and owner Clive Smith have decided to call time on a brilliant career.
Speaking in his Betfair column, Nicholls said: "The end of an era has finally arrived. Clive was here this morning and we have taken the decision to retire Kauto Star."
"The spontaneous applause he got from the crowd when he was pulled up genuinely lifted the spirits of all the team here - and it is the team here, from Clifford down, and Clive, that made Kauto what he became - at what was a low moment.
"Disappointment was immediately replaced by pride, and that is the overwhelming emotion I feel when looking at the horse.
"Ever since then, Clive and I have discussed retirement at regular intervals.
"But now the decision has been made it will be very strange to look out of my office window and not see Kauto's head and Denman's arse sticking out the main two boxes - or indeed Clive's Master Minded, for that matter.
"Because Kauto Star will be the hardest of acts to follow.
"He has given me my best days in the sport and, even though the Gold Cups and King Georges are the pinnacles for any staying chaser, with his 2009 Kempton win breathtakingly impressive, the raw emotion that followed his Haydock win last November will live longest in my memory.
"I had to hold myself together to stop myself being in floods of tears that day, and I just about managed it.
"But whatever the future holds, I am certain that Clive and all us here at Ditcheat will reflect on a magnificent past and I am sure we will both go on searching for the unattainable in the future.
"Namely, a horse to replace the irreplaceable legend that was, and is, Kauto Star."
Mick Fitzgerald partnered Kauto Star just once but he was lucky enough to be aboard when the Village Star gelding won his first Grade One in the 2005 Tingle Creek.
He said: "He's just been an amazing horse.
"It was a pleasure to be asked to ride him in the Tingle Creek and a treat to do so.
"I actually went down to Ditcheat last week to do a piece for At The Races and I saw Kauto and he looked absolutely fantastic.
"It's great news he's been retired as he can now go and enjoy the rest of his life.
"He's produced some incredible performances. Haydock last year was fantastic and all you had to do was look at Paul Nicholls after the race and you could see what the horse meant to him.
"I think Paul has done an absolutely incredible job with the horse. He's an amazing trainer and he deserves a huge amount of credit.
"You'd have to say Kauto Star is right up there with the best (there's ever been).
"To win two Tingle Creeks, two Gold Cups and five King Georges says everything you need to know. He's been an amazing, amazing horse."