cialis serif;”>With the Cheltenham Gold Cup approaching on the horizon Seán Cummins looks at one of the National Hunt’s stalwarts.

The world was just settling down after the millennium celebrations and the feared Y2K computer scare when a horse that would change the face of racing took his first tentative steps to greatness. Kauto Star currently the king of National Hunt was born on the 19th of March into the yard of Mrs. Henri Aubert in France. His achievements are numerous and his character and strength remain to this day and the Paul Nicholls trained heavyweight is currently rewriting the history books as he aims for his third Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Clive Smith possibly one of the luckiest owners in horse racing may not of being feeling so when he was out-bid by J.P. Macmanus for Garde Champtre another exciting French import. Kauto Star a horse highly thought of by Nicholls as a promising hurdler was soon purchased by the unsuspecting Smith. The guiding hand and expert judgement of Nicholls became apparent in his first race in the Daily Press Novices chase when he beat quality two milers under Ruby Walsh. The formerly named ‘L’Extraternestre’ became a field leader in his achievements. Along with Kauto Star, Smith is also privileged to own Master Minded a proven champion over two and a half miles.

Recently the Paul Nicholls trained gelding affixed himself to the mantle of the best horse of his time when winning the King George VI chase at Haydock on the 26th of December for the fifth time beating the previous winner Long Run to a record victory in the feature grade one. Kauto has also won the Betfair chase four times, he is the only horse to have reclaimed the Cheltenham Gold cup in consecutive years and has won well in-excess of two million pounds making him the highest earning national hunt horse of all time trumping Garde Champtre’s £265,645 a figure which brings a delicate smile to Smith’s face.

With Kauto’s magnificent sheet of achievements there are bound to be comparisons to horses of yester-year such as Arkle and Red Rum but in Smith’s mind he has the best, speaking after his demolition of Long Run in the Betfair Chase Smith complimented his star, ‘He knows he’s king and he just said, here I am’. Paul Nicholls also speaks highly of his star attraction admitting his bias, ‘I think he is the best ever. No horse will beat what he has done…. His star’s still burning bright’. The secret of Kauto’s success lies in his size and his blistering turn of pace being a much lighter athletic horse has allowed for a long and enduring career compared to the weight carrying giants such as Arkle who ran his opponents into the ground carrying excessive handicaps. Currently Kauto sits a comfortable second in the antepost betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and victory in the next March meeting could put Kauto’s record out of reach for even the most promising up and coming horses from which Kauto’s replacement most be sourced. This victory would match the great Arkle’s record of three Gold Cup triumphs.

A win would ensure Kauto’s place in history and as a twelve year old could be the final race in a distinguished career. He will truly be remembered for his ability and winning attributes. He has endeavoured to change the history books and steps beyond the rank of pretender to true greatness. His purchase was one of good fortune and his achievements are regarded to many as highly outstanding and unrepeatable. The champion French extra-terrestrial has been a shining light for British and Irish racing. The history maker has had a prosperous journey toward greatness. He currently lies third in the overall race weights ranking and a third Cheltenham Gold cup could ease the jubilant warrior’s retirement.