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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 11:01 GMT
Kauto Star focus
Paul NichollsRuby WalshClive Smith Kauto Star

By Frank Keogh

Kauto Star is the equine star who has got the racing world talking with his steeplechase heroics.

The seven-year-old horse capped a dominant season with his sixth victory from six runs when landing the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In the process, he earned a 1m bonus for his team for sealing a big-race treble.

We take the inside track on the story behind the horse. Click on the images above to discover more about the team behind a racing star (and click back to return to top).

KAUTO STAR

Age: 7 Breeding: Village Star-Kauto Relka (France)
Career placings: 211-1F2353-112-21F-111111
Owner says: Horse's name should be pronounced 'Kaw-to Star' not "Kay-to Star'.

Bred in France where he so impressed with his seemingly out-of-this-world pace and power, he was nicknamed 'L'Extraterrestrial'.

Kauto Star jumps the last fence in the Aon Chase
Kauto Star won despite a final-fence wobble
In 22 races in France and Britain, he has been victorious 12 times and become the first horse to win over 2m in prize money over jumps.

He has delivered on all his promise this season, winning all six of his high-class races at six different tracks, over distances ranging from two miles to more than three-and-a-quarter miles.

Bought by Clive Smith in 2004 for 280,000, but nearly never happened as the owner's main target at the time had been Garde Champetre. He bid 475,000 for that horse, but Irish millionaire JP McManus topped his offer by 50,000.

Smith's purple, green and yellow colours are taken from the heather-clad scenery of Camberley Heath golf course where he was once captain.

His breakthrough business golf course was Hawthorn Hill, which he later sold for a reported 8m. It was on the site of a former racecourse.

PAUL NICHOLLS

Born: 17 April 1962 Alveston, Bristol
Big wins: Gold Cup 1999 See More Business, 2007 Kauto Star; Champion Chase 1999 Call Equiname, 2004 Azertyuiop
He says: "I have never had any doubt that Kauto Star was the real deal."

The son of a policeman, Nicholls was a jump jockey in the 1980s, riding for nine years, and winning the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury twice.

Paul Nicholls, Ruby Walsh and Kauto Star.
Nicholls always believed Kauto would deliver at Cheltenham
He was assistant trainer to Devon-based David Barons, for whom he had ridden several winners, and was there when the stable sent out Seagram to win the 1991 Grand National at Aintree.

Nicholls took out a licence at Manor Farm Stables in Ditch eat, Somerset, later that year and is now the dominant force in jump racing.

He wrested the top trainer title from west country rival Martin Pipe last season, and Pipe retired on the day Nicholls was crowned champion.

Nicholls is seen as eloquent, honest and popular with punters and Press for refusing to duck questions. He often points out winners in his Racing Post and Teletext columns.

He once sent out seven winners and three seconds on a Saturday in 1998. Twice divorced, he is married to Georgie Browne, the former wife of racing pundit Luke Harvey

RUBY WALSH

Born: 14 May, 1979. Kill, County Kildare
Big wins: Grand National, 2000 Papillon 2005 Hedgehunter; Gold Cup 2007 Kauto Star
He says: "If you make a mistake, own up to it."

Dreamed of winning the Gold Cup ever since, aged six, he saw his dad Ted on TV winning the amateurs' version - the Foxhunters' Chase - in 1986 on Attitude Adjuster.

Ruby Walsh on Kauto Star
Winning partnership: Walsh and Kauto Star
In the same week, great Irish mare Dawn Run won the blue riband.

Ruby, who was christend Rupert, won the Grand National with Papillon for his father Ted in 2000 and repeated the trick on the Willie Mullins-trained Hedgehunter five years later.

Despite the National's wider appeal, the prematurely grey-haired Ruby believes the Gold Cup is the world's best steeplechase.

Famed for his horsemanship and patient riding style - he makes sitting still look an art form.

Walsh was a former scrum-half for his local Naas side in Kildare and is a passionate Manchester United fan. He says if Kauto Star was a footballer, he would be United's Cristiano Ronaldo.

"Kauto would be the guy who can score from anywhere but likes to beat the extra player before he does," says Walsh.

CLIVE SMITH

Age: 57 Background: Went to school in Windsor, Berkshire. Lives in Surrey.
Business success: Designing and building pay-and-play golf courses.
Racing success: 2005 Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair; 2006 King George and 2007 Gold Cup Kauto Star.
He says: "I can't stand snobbery. I dislike people who were born with a head start in life looking down on others."

Ruby Walsh, Clive Smith and Kauto Star
Smith (centre) felt "relieved and privileged" after Kauto's win
Smith and his partner Janet Fleetwood slept with the Gold Cup on their bedside table on Friday night.

He had dreamed of winning it since attending his first Cheltenham Festival in 1974, and seeing Captain Christy triumph.

The down-to-earth businessman, who has made his personal fortune after spotting a gap in the market for decent public golf courses, has attended every day of the Festival since 1981.

He says Kauto should be pronounced in a similar way to auto. He has a passion for Lagonda cars and sponsors the Lagonda trophy for young golfers, which has previously been won by Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

A racehorse owner for 20 years, with trainers including Jenny Pitman and Martin Pipe, he has suffered the bad moments as well as the highs, and is steeped in racing's history.

"I was at Kempton when Arkle ran his last race and patted him on the backside and said 'goodbye old lad,'" he said.

MOST SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

Head lad Clifford Baker rides Kauto Star out every day. He also supervised Gold Cup winners See More Business (for Nicholls) and Charter Party (David Nicholson).

Bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley found the horse in France and bought him for Smith for 400,000 euros in the summer of 2004.

Stable lass Sonja Warburton is the lady in Kauto Star's life, who looks after him day-to-day.

THAT FINAL FENCE

What is it about this racehorse, generally a brilliant jumper, that makes him plough into the odd fence close to home when clear?

Theories abound. A previously hidden injury, crowd noise, the large trackside TV screens, maybe even just a wicked sense of humour.

On his second start in Britain, in January 2005, Kauto Star was sent off a hot 2-11 favourite at Exeter and fell at the second last when clear.

Walsh remounted and the horse was only beaten a short head despite being 20 lengths behind when he got back on board.

But unknown to the jockey, he had suffered an injury, and spent 11 months on the sidelines before returning with a win at Sandown.

Can a horse actually remember that kind of thing? Walsh is not unduly concerned: "I'm lucky enough to have the chance to ride Kauto Star, so you have to enjoy it."



SEE ALSO
Owner relieved at Kauto triumph
19 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing
Kauto team hail Gold Cup 'superstar'
16 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing
Racing boosted by Kauto Star
17 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing
Kauto Star seals Gold Cup triumph
16 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing
Kauto primed for Gold Cup attempt
11 Mar 07 |  Horse Racing


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