Paul Nicholls has confirmed the "once-in-a-lifetime" horse Kauto Star has run his final race.
The winner of two Cheltenham Gold Cups and five King George VI Chases, Kauto Star was pulled up on his final start in last season's Gold Cup.
Connections have taken time to make a final decision over whether the 12-year-old should race on, but the champion trainer and owner Clive Smith have decided to call time on his career. Speaking in his Betfair column, Nicholls said: "The end of an era has finally arrived. Clive was here this morning (Wednesday) and we have taken the decision to retire Kauto Star."
Nicholls revealed in September connections would consider giving the legendary chaser one last run in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day, but after seeing him on the gallops in recent weeks, he feels now is the right time to draw stumps.
"We have had nine superb years with the horse but, after seeing him in his work these past few weeks, myself, Clifford (Baker, head lad) and Dan (Skelton, assistant trainer) were of the opinion that the time had arrived to retire him," Nicholls said. "Of course, as owner, the final decision rested with Clive, but he agreed that the horse had done enough.
"Kauto is signing off in full health and after a season in which he proved so many people wrong by winning a fifth King George and a fourth Betfair Chase, to add to his two Cheltenham Gold Cups and Tingle Creeks," said Nicholls. "Who wouldn't want to train a horse of this quality any more? He is a once-in-a-lifetime horse, after all."
Nicholls added: "But whatever the future holds, I am certain that Clive and all us here at Ditcheat will reflect on a magnificent past and I am sure we will both go on searching for the unattainable in the future. Namely, a horse to replace the irreplaceable legend that was, and is, Kauto Star."
KAUTO STAR FACTFILE
Sire: Village Star
Dam: Kauto Relka
Foaled: March 19, 2000 in France
Owner: Clive Smith
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockeys since arriving in Britain: Ruby Walsh, Mick Fitzgerald, Sam Thomas and Tony McCoy
Career earnings: £2,375,883
Race record: 23 wins from 41 starts, including 16 victories at Grade One level.
Major races won: Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007 and 2009), King George VI Chase (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011), Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011), Tingle Creek Chase (2005 and 2006), Ascot Chase (2008), JNwine.com Champion Chase (2008 and 2010), AON Chase (2007).