Kauto Star became the first horse in history to land the King George VI Chase at Kempton five times.
Jockey Walsh proves Kauto Star is better to Long Run
Kauto Star became the first horse in history to land the King George VI Chase at Kempton five times with a quite brilliant performance under Ruby Walsh.
Just as he had been when landing Haydock's Betfair Chase last month, the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding was once again ridden positively for this three-mile test.
The 11 year old was in front with a circuit to go and, as he quickened the pace heading down the back straight, he produced some sensational leaps to get his rivals in trouble.
Long Run, last season's King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, stayed on tenaciously in the home straight, but Kauto Star was not for catching and had a length and a quarter in hand at the line.
The incredible French-bred horse had all but been written off at the start of the season, having been left chasing Long Run's shadow in the King George and the Gold Cup before pulling up at Punchestown in May.
With his career on the line, the veteran produced a superb performance at Haydock in November to consign Long Run to the runner-up spot, but the general feeling was that Nicky Henderson's stayer would make the bigger step forward.
However, Kauto Star travelled strongly throughout and it was clear from the turn for home that Long Run was failing to match his impressive speed and jumping. While the latter did bridge the gap from Haydock, Kauto Star was always in complete command and was once again too strong.
Nicholls said: "He's just awesome and I knew we had him in serious order. I don't know why he wasn't quite right last year.
"It was a massive plus having Ruby [Walsh] here today and it's just unbelievable.
"It's amazing. He's just the best. If he gets to Cheltenham in that form he'll be the one to beat [in the Gold Cup]."