Ruby Walsh feels Kauto Star didn’t show his true self during the 2008 Gold Cup, when the legendary chaser was famously bested by stablemate Denman, but he has no regrets about his choice of ride in the race.
The Paddy Power ambassador went on to pilot Kauto Star to his second victory in the Cheltenham Festival centrepiece a year later, and has fondly reminisced about the supremely talented stayer’s incredible career.
Speaking on the latest episode of our ‘Countdown to Cheltenham’ podcast ahead of this season’s festival – where Paddy is offering non-runner money back on all races – Ruby explains how he came to decide between the two Paul Nicholls-trained superstars for the 2008 race.
You can listen to the full show BELOW.
Tough decisions on what to ride sometimes define careers, and sometimes you get them wrong. The fact that I was injured earlier in the year probably didn’t help either – I didn’t get to ride Denman in the Hennessy, I only watched it. I was back by Christmas, and won the King George on Kauto Star and the Lexus Chase (now the Savills Chase) on Denman, so in my mind the two were hard to split.
Denman turned up in incredible form on Gold Cup day in 2008, whereas Kauto Star never landed a blow. Everyone will have their own opinion but to me, if Kauto had been able to lie up and Denman outstayed him, I’d have said Kauto ran his race because 14 months earlier Kauto Star had won a Tingle Creek.
He lined up in the Gold Cup and he couldn’t even keep up with Denman, and there is no way Denman was going faster than the horses went in the Tingle Creek. For whatever reason, Kauto just didn’t turn up at Cheltenham.
It was his pure class and – we speak about Hurricane Fly having an attitude to win – his attitude that were the only reasons Kauto Star even finished second that year. Denman was brilliant on the day but Kauto didn’t turn up.
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That is just something that happens when you’re making those decisions. They were two wonderful horses, and they came back a couple of times. Kauto came back the following year and beat Denman, then they both got beaten the year after. They were two incredible horses, magical horses, and they were a pleasure to have anything to do with.
I was delighted to win a second Gold Cup in 2009 – it’s the biggest race of the year – but I didn’t give myself an extra pat on the back because I stuck with Kauto Star.
It was brilliant to be on his back, and he was some racehorse. Even when he came back to win a fifth King George in 2011… he was a horse that I loved.
You think about some of the hard races he had, and some of the falls he took… the race he had behind Denman, when he was flat to the boards and not on his A game, he ran himself into the ground and still came back the following year. He was an incredibly athlete.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES
March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips
March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips
March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips
March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY FOUR SCHEDULE
13.20 – JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 179y
13.55 – County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 179y
14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 7f 213y
15.05 – Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m 2f 70y
15.40 – St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup 3m 2f 70y
16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m 4f 127y
16.50 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f 56y
*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.
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