Kauto Star honoured in Feltham
Kauto Star's achievements have been honoured at Kempton as his name will appear in the title of the Feltham this year.
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The race will be known as 'The Kauto Star Feltham Novices' Steeple Chase' (in memory of Nigel Clark) with immediate effect until approval has been agreed for a permanent renaming of the race.
No horse in modern racing history has done more to promote National Hunt racing than Kauto Star.
The ultimate champion chaser who at various times was the highest rated runner over two miles, two and a half miles and three miles, Kauto Star accumulated an astonishing 16 Grade One victories in a UK career that started at Newbury in December 2004, and ended last month when connections announced his retirement.
However, just as in a previous generation when Desert Orchid became synonymous with Kempton and Boxing Day, it was over Kempton's three miles that Kauto Star will be best remembered.
Kauto Star was simply imperious over the three miles at the Sunbury track, completing four successive wins in the William Hill King George VI Chase from 2006 - by an aggregate of 63 lengths - before his emotional and record-breaking fifth success last year, when holding Long Run in a truly epic battle.
The three mile Feltham, Grade One, test for novice chasers over the King George course and distance is a highly appropriate way of remembering the great warrior on his beloved track.
It will provide all racegoers, television viewers and punters with a reminder of what Kauto Star meant to racing, and to Boxing Day in particular.
History shows that the only time Kauto Star met with defeat in the King George was when the race had to be rescheduled.
Kate Miller, PR Director for William Hill, said, "This announcement gives us a chance to show our appreciation for the mighty Kauto Star.
"In discussion with Kempton, we felt that the inclusion of Kauto's name in a prestigious Grade One chase was the most appropriate course of action. The William Hill Winter Festival is now as much a part of Boxing Day as a turkey sandwich, and thanks to Kauto Star it has been a lot more special for the last six seasons. No horse in my lifetime has made more of an impact than Kauto, and it will be an emotional moment when he parades in front of his adoring fans on Boxing Day."
Phil White, General Manager at Kempton Park, said: "It is an amazing legacy that Kauto Star leaves at Kempton Park, his achievements over the past six seasons are second-to-none and unlikely to be surpassed. Both William Hill and Kempton Park are honoured to mark the esteem that racing fans throughout the nation hold for Kauto Star and we are especially delighted to welcome the superstar back to Kempton."
William Hill also announced the agreement of a new three year deal with Kempton Park, securing themselves as the headline sponsor of the Winter Festival until 2015. The agreement will see William Hill's sponsorship of one of the highlight's of the National Hunt calendar to a minimum of seven years in total.
The renewal will also see further investment from William Hill into the two-day Winter Festival meeting, with an increase in funding of over 15%.
From 2013 the additional monies will boost and upgrade two of the handicaps on the second day of the fixture, with significant prize-money increases for both the three mile handicap chase and two mile handicap hurdle.
The new deal secures not only the William Hill commitment to the Winter Festival, but also to other key days in the Kempton calendar, including the William Hill Lanzarote Day, the sponsorship of the Dovecote Hurdle on RacingPlus Chase day, and also William Hill Jump Sunday in October.
Ralph Topping, CEO for William Hill, said, "This message reaffirms our long term commitment to one of the jewels of the National Hunt Season. By increasing our contribution to the William Hill Winter Festival by more than 15%, we are bucking the culture of cutbacks and putting our money into this major Festival. The William Hill Winter Festival, featuring the King George, is now firmly established as the major sporting event of the Christmas period.''
Mike Street, Chairman of Kempton Park, said: "This is great news for Kempton Park and for British racing at a commercially challenging time. Everybody at Kempton and Jockey Club Racecourses are delighted to strengthen the depth and quality of the Jump racing season. Having a single sponsor backing the prestigious two-day Winter Festival will enable a continuous promotion of some of the finest Jump racing staged in England".
"On behalf of Kempton Park I would like to express our enormous gratitude to William Hill for having the vision to back some of the most important races of the season in such a consistent way."