Thursday, July 2, 2015
Like so many others, the news of Kauto Star suffering an injury and having to be put to sleep hit me hard. It was most unexpected and unwelcome news. My immediate question was “how did this happen ?” All too aware that the great Kauto was now embarking on a late dressage career, I thought immediately that he might have incurred some sort of freak injury as he was still a relatively young horse and in rude health. And so it came to pass. Though not competing, a freak fall in a paddock, (no one knows quite how it happened) resulted in a devastating series of injuries. The second thoracic vertebrae and sixth cervical vertebrae were irreparably damaged. Paralysis was the outcome and as he could not stand, the decision was made to euthanise the double Gold Cup winner. And though that was the most heart-breaking of decisions, it was the right call.
I felt a profound sense of loss when Kauto Star died. Not the same as losing a family member, that goes without saying, but rather like learning that your favourite childhood pet had passed away. He was my favourite racehorse, there is no doubt about that, and he deserved a long and happy retirement, not this. But as we are all well aware, we don’t always get what we deserve. There have been dozens of glowing obsequies about Kauto Star, all of them show the affection and high regard in which he was held. I believe that Alastair Down wrote a beautiful article but I must confess that I have not read any of them. I wanted my own few words not to be influenced (even by the great Mr. Down) because in a way it is cathartic.
Rather than list his achievements, of which there are many, or list the controversies around the relationship between his owner and trainer, I will remember Kauto Star fondly. I was at Cheltenham when he won his first Gold Cup. I was devastated when Denman beat him and remember walking around in a funk for hours afterwards. But it was when Kauto Star regained his Gold Cup, becoming the first horse to ever do so, that I was beyond the point of reason in happiness. It is probably a form of madness to get so attached to a horse that you have no connection with, but it is a happy form of madness and I have the best memories of this horse. I really believe that I will never feel the same way about another.
Farewell Kauto Star, you handsome, talented, aristocratic beauty. You held us all in captivation for so many years and you will be missed. Rest now that your race is run.