Kauto Star made amends for last month’s slip-up at Haydock with a third consecutive success in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Friday.
Trained by Paul Nicholls and partnered by Ruby Walsh, Kauto Star justified odds of 10-11 to emulate Desert Orchid, the only other horse to capture the Christmas showpiece three times.
The hotly backed favorite survived a few minor jumping scares early on to shrug off the challenge of Albertas Run up the Kempton straight with Voy Por Ustedes taking third.
At eight years of age Kauto Star, who won by eight lengths, still has plenty of mileage left on the clock and all being well will be back next year to bid for a four-timer.
This was the French-bred’s 10th Grade One success.
“He’s a star, isn’t he?” Walsh said. “He’s always been a wonderful horse but when you are at the top, people want to knock you,” he said.
Nicholls, who also has Gold Cup winner Denman in his care, said: “I wish some people would give him the respect he deserves. “I’m so pleased for the horse, not anyone else, just him I wish I hadn’t run him last time at Haydock — it was not [jockey] Sam Thomas’ finest hour but we knew we had him back.”
“When he’s right, he’s a very good horse,” he said. “He definitely won’t run before the Gold Cup and I can safely say he will only have the one run next year before the King George.”
Owner Clive Smith said: “Ruby said they went too fast early on so he just hung back before he made his effort in the last half-mile. “You need pace to lay up with them though and undoubtedly he was on top form today,” he said.
“He was as stylish as he has ever been and now we can all look forward to the rest of the season,” he said. “I didn’t back him today, I’d backed him a few days ago and the prize money is enough.”