Kauto Star is already a legend. Even if the Cheltenham Gold Cup ends without the 12 year old landing the spoils, he will be welcomed back to the paddock with a sincere ovation from spectators. As Ruby Walsh told Racing UK on Thursday, Kauto Star “owes nobody nothing.” Whether he wins, falls or finishes last, debate will turn to whether he was the greatest Cheltenham Gold Cup winner of all time. If not the greatest steeplechaser of all time.
Arkle is the benchmark for modern day chasers. Golden Miller did win the race five years in a row in the 1930s but it was Arkle who set the standard for what Kauto Star is being measured against. Even if Kauto Star does the nigh on impossible on Friday, some of Arkle’s achievements will never be repeated. Paul Nicholls wouldn’t dream of putting Kauto in a handicap. Officials had to rewrite the handicap rulebook when Arkle was put in as top weight in the Irish Grand National. Here we see “Himself” winning his first Gold Cup. Listen to Peter O’Sullevan as he crosses the line.
Dawn Run. No mare had won the Gold Cup before her and no mare is likely to do it again. After the last, she looks a beaten horse and Wayward Lad a likely winner. She pulls it out of the fire to beat the valiant veteran.
Much like Kauto Star, it was said that Desert Orchid wouldn’t enjoy the Cheltenham. He’d tried in the past but in 1989 he proved all the begrudges wrong with a win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Kauto is as much loved as Dessie was in the 80’s.
The regularly maligned Best Mate might be considered a default champion when the three mile division wasn’t producing good horses, but to his credit, he was the first horse since Arkle to win three Cheltenham Gold Cup’s in a row at Prestbury Park (at 2.57 mins of this video)
While these two won’t go down as great Gold Cup winners, Pendil and the Dikler provided one of the most amazing finishes we’re likely to see in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.