LOOK BACK: 2011 Betfair Chase – Kauto Star

kauto star

Electric, majestic, athletic and brave. Just a few of the adjectives that could be used to describe the greatest chaser to take to the track in the last two decades.

In truth there is no surplus of adjectives that could be used for the two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, five-time King George VI winner and most aptly, four-time winner of Haydock’s premier National Hunt race, the 3 mile Betfair Chase.

Kauto Star won the race in 2006, 2007, 2009 and finally in 2011 in what will surely be remembered as one of his greatest and bravest victories.

The then experienced 11-year-old sailed round Haydock before leaping clear of the then Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Long Run at the last.

A race in which Steward Machin beautifully proclaimed that ‘The old king still has one hand on the crown’ as he called them home.

The feat was made all the more impressive given the circumstances.

No 11-year-old had ever won the race prior to Paul Nicholls’ charge and in what would be his final year in training he threw down the gauntlet to his younger competitors. Following a year without victory, less was expected of the ageing 6/1 shot.

However, what followed was remarkable. Back at Haydock, the scene of his three previous Betfair Chase victories, Kauto Star led from the front subsequently galloping the field into submission whilst putting on an emphatic jumping performance which had become a staple of his victories.

Owner Clive Smith hailed his much loved star later that year stating “His return to form at Haydock was fantastic. It was the most moving moment on the turf I’ve ever had.

When you see what he did, to beat the reigning champion, was just remarkable, and beat him all points down.”

His victory in 2011 Betfair Chase marked the start of a memorable oh so nearly final charge at a second triple crown.

He went on to Kempton for the King George VI, a race that followed much the same narrative.

An excellent round of jumping and solid gallop meant he once again prevailed over Nicky Henderson’s Long Run.

With his name already etched in history, the last stop on his journey was the challenge of a third Cheltenham Gold Cup.

However, in what proved to be his final race, he failed to match the performances that had seen him win in other years.

Yet, the once in a lifetime chaser’s legacy lives on through his many longstanding records, many of which will take years to overcome.

His four victories at Haydock will certainly never be forgotten and his 2011 victory may well be the best of the lot.

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