Timeline: From budding champion to a crowd favourite
THE life and times of a Super Star:
2000: A Star is born. By Village Star out of Kauto Relka, the budding champion first sees the light of a French day on March 19.
2003: His racecourse debut on March 1 and he finishes second in a hurdle at Bordeaux Le Bouscat before going on to win his next three for Parisienne trainer Serge Foucher.
2004: Kauto Star moves to Paul Nicholls at Ditcheat after owner Clive Smith splashes out £285,000. Nicholls puts the import straight over fences with an impressive nine-length Newbury novice win under Ruby Walsh in December from French raider Foreman.
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2005: After a four-length second to Monkerhostin in Exeter's Haldon Gold Cup on November 1 he lands the first of 16 Grade One chase victories in the Tingle Creek at Sandown Park a month later under Mick Fitzgerald.
2006: He starts favourite for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March but disaster: a dreadful fall at the third fence. He bounces back in October with a Grade Two win at Aintree followed by a Grade One hat-trick in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, the Tingle Creek and the King George over Christmas despite gasps when rooting the final Kempton Park fence.
2007: Back at the Cheltenham Festival he laps up the glory by winning the Gold Cup under Walsh though palpitations once more for connections when clouting the last.
2008: With three consecutive Grade Ones under his belt in this season he arrives at Cheltenham odds-on to retain the Gold Cup in March but he and Walsh are undermined by Thomas and the Tank engine: aka Sam Thomas aboard stablemate Denman.
2009: Kauto Star has that golden glow again in March as the first horse in Cheltenham history to win back the Gold Cup after losing it. He turns the tables on Denman – later in the year he captures another Betfair Chase and a fourth King George.
2010: Odds-on again for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but eclipsed by Imperial Commander and Denman and backpedalling when taking a tumble four out on his 10th birthday.
2011: Beaten by Long Run in both the delayed King George and the Gold Cup before a lethargic effort at Punchestown in May. Is this the end? Absolutely not as a rejuvenated Star dazzles again in the Betfair with Long Run eight lengths back during November followed by a record fifth King George which brings the house down.
2012: A third Gold Cup at the age of 12? Racing holds its breath in the countdown when Our Hero suffers a heavy fall schooling. The recovery is conducted publicly and admirably by Nicholls but the dream never transpires on the day and he is pulled up by Walsh before halfway with something amiss. Spontaneous and emotional applause from the 70,000 crowd pays tribute to an exceptional racing talent.