He may have allowed young pretender Long Run to borrow his crown temporarily, but Kauto Star proved emphatically that he is still very much a force to be reckoned with after a faultless round of jumping and galloping in Haydock’s Betfair Chase on Saturday.
With Flat star Frankel barely roughed-off, the king of steeplechasing ensured that the spotlight was well and truly back on him, posting the kind of spring-heeled, front-running performance one would have expected of him three or four seasons ago but dare not hope for in the twilight of his career.
Now 11, the son of Village Star and Kauto Relka followed the example set by his younger half-brother Kauto Stone, who won a Grade 2 chase for Paul Nicholls on his seasonal debut a fortnight ago. Kauto Stone may be less than half his brother’s age and already have a Grade 1 victory to his name after last year’s Prix Maurice Gillois, but he has an awful lot of ground to make up if he is ever to emulate the outstanding haul of 15 Grade 1 victories by Kauto Star.
After a summer which has been greatly enhanced by the exploits of Frankel, it was almost too much to hope that the winter season could produce anything to compare. But in one afternoon a brilliant bay, who has earned his place in racegoers hearts season after season, dispelled such an idea and brought Haydock to fever pitch with a display of bravery equal to his extraordinary talent. Long may he run.