Ruby extols Kauto virtues
Ruby Walsh insists Kauto Star can already be considered one of racing's all-time greats ahead of his bid for an historic fifth victory in the William Hill King George VI Chase.
Walsh has been in the saddle for each of the 10-year-old's four previous triumphs in the Boxing Day highlight at Kempton, while he has also guided the Paul Nicholls inmate to two successes in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The champion jockey is sidelined through a broken leg, but told BBC Sport: "I'm one of four people who have been privileged enough to ride him. There's Sam Thomas, me, Mick Fitzgerald and Noel (Fehily). In time to come, people will say, 'Do you remember Kauto Star?', and I will say, 'I rode him'."
Walsh went on: "Because that's the kind of horse he's going to be. I think down the line he will be spoken of in the same way as Desert Orchid, Arkle, those kind of horses. He's an amazing horse. Speed, class, stamina. He has everything."
Walsh is used to high-pressure situations, but Fehily is coming in for the biggest ride of his life at Kempton. The star rider does not believe his deputy needs much advice, however, having filled his shoes at Nicholls' yard to great effect in recent weeks.
"Noel is a very good rider, so he won't be needing very much tuition from me, and he rides a good, tactical race," Walsh said: "I will just point out that Kauto likes to go a little bit to his left, simple things like that.
"He's a very steady, level guy and that's the way he rides as well. He's been doing a great job, and fair play to him."
Walsh admits he cannot face being at Kempton to see Kauto Star attempt to make racing history, and intends to stay at home in Ireland.
"I'll be at home for Christmas with Gillian (wife) and Isabelle (daughter). I won't travel," Walsh admitted.
"In my own selfish way it will be a sad enough day watching him winning without me so I think I'd rather be on my own. I'll definitely watch it because horses are my life. He's been such a good horse to me that I'm sure as hell going to be supporting him. I'll watch it, but not in the public eye."