Kauto Star: after he was pulled up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on FridayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Smith leaning towards retirement for Kauto Star
CLIVE SMITH, owner of horse of a lifetime Kauto Star, said it was 90 per cent certain that the dual Gold Cup winner had run his last race after he was pulled up in this year's race on Friday.
Generally recognised as the greatest chaser since the mighty Arkle, Kauto Star got no further than the ninth fence before regular rider Ruby Walsh decided to call it a day.
Although champion trainer Paul Nicholls said a decision on the horse's future would not be taken in the immediate aftermath, Smith thought his pride and joy had earned his retirement.
He said: "There will be no snap decision but I am 90 per cent sure. I will take advice but someone will have to work very hard to persuade me that we should see him out again because what I wouldn't want to happen is have a Best Mate situation or a Dawn Run, I don't want anything like that, I'd just rather call it a day, maybe.
"We will see how we go and we will talk about it. It is a very sad occasion really because it will be the last time probably we will see him on the track. I feel a bit emotional now about it."
An emotional day for Clive SmithPICTURE: Mark Cranham
After suffering a "horrible fall" in a schooling accident in the build up to Friday's race, the 12-year-old had been just 50-50 to make the race. But after making significant improvement and coming through a racecourse gallop and schooling session unscathed, connections allowed him to bid for a third win in the race.
However, both Nicholls and Smith felt he was still feeling the effects of that schooling accident and Walsh said he was left with only one option.
He said: "I was thinking about pulling up when AP [McCoy] said 'if I were you I'd be pulling up'. It would have been a hell of a lot worse if I'd turned him over and he'd broken his neck."
As well as his two Gold Cup wins, Kauto Star boasts five King George victories and four Betfair Chases among his 23-career wins to date.