Kauto Star left a mark and was a true star of Down Royal
Kauto Star - hailed as one of the greatest racehorses of all-time - has been fondly remembered at Down Royal, where the thoroughbred's appearances left an indelible mark.
The former National Hunt champion was the only horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup back-to-back and the King George VI Chase a record five times.
The gelding amassed over £2m in prize money for his owners.
In 2012 he was retired from racing and moved to dressage.
Yesterday it was announced Kauto Star had suffered an injury and with "his best interest at heart", he was put down.
Kauto Star twice appeared and twice won at Down Royal.
Down Royal manager Michael Todd said the superstar's appearance at the track was the highlight of his career.
"I've worked at Down Royal for 19 years and the biggest, single, most significant achievement was Kauto Star coming, racing and winning," said Michael.
"He was the greatest steeplechaser in 50 or so years, since Arkle, and to have a horse of that calibre at Down Royal was special.
"We are only a small industry here in Northern Ireland but we punch above our weight and to have Kauto Star come and compete was a big thing.
"It was a living, working fairy tale and we are very proud of his association."
Michael said he was saddened to hear of the accident, in which the animal suffered neck and pelvis injuries.
"It will be a long time before we see a horse of his kind. He just took everything to a different level. It truly is the end of an era."
Fellow horseracing legend AP McCoy, who rode Kauto Star to third in the 2010 King George VI Chase, paid his respects.
"The most complete chaser of the modern era, RIP," he said in a tweet.
And Ruby Walsh, who took the reins at Down Royal on the horse, said he was a "true heavyweight". He added: "It is some feat to turn up and win any race five times, let alone a Grade One King George."
See sport, page 49