The joint-fourth highest-rated steeplechaser since the early Sixties, according to Timeform, and hailed by regular partner Ruby Walsh as ‘the greatest horse I’ve ever ridden’, Kauto Star won the Cheltenham Gold Cup for the first time in 2007. On that occasion, as a seven-year-old, he started 5/4 favourite and, despite hitting the final fence, stayed on strongly to beat Exotic Dancer by 2½ lengths.
The following season, Kauto Star started favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup once again, at 10/11, but jumped less than fluently and, although staying on gamely in the closing stages, went down by seven lengths to stable companion Denman. However, by the time the Cheltenham Gold Cup rolled around again in 2009, Kauto Star had returned to the peak of his powers and was again made favourite, at 7/4, to beat Denman, who ahd been treated for a heart condition in the interim.
Unlike the previous year, Kauto Star jumped immaculately; so well, in fact, that rather than following stable companion Neptune Collonges over the second-last fence, as Ruby Walsh had originally intended, Kauto Star was already in front at that point. He came clear before the final fence for an impressive, 13-length win over Denman, with his old rival Exotic Dancer a further 2½ lengths back in third place. Kauto Star became the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup – no mean feat considering two dozen horses had previously tried, and failed, to do so – and his performance was described by Timeform as ‘the best Gold Cup-winning figure since the Arkle era’. Delighted winning jockey Ruby Walsh said, ‘He’s magic. He’s a wonder horse.’