Punters and racing fans alike have been spoilt in recent years with the successes of Kauto Star and Frankel, but both have now been retired, albeit for entirely different reasons.
Kauto Star will enjoy a deserved break in his latter years after a career that took in two Cheltenham Gold Cup victories, alongside five triumphs in the King George, often making Boxing Day feel like a second Christmas Day for punters.
Emulating these achievements will be as good as impossible and it is unlikely that there will ever be another Kauto Star, but the following trio look the most capable of warming punters’ hearts in the same way.
Sir Des Champs
Sir Des Champs certainly has age on his side as despite being just a six-year-old, he is already the ante-post favourite for the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
This is based on the fact that he is still unbeaten after five chase starts, which includes a Cheltenham Festival success in the Jewson Novices’ Chase.
He has proven stamina, is two from two at Cheltenham and has plenty of time to rack up the victories, making him arguably the most likely to match Kauto Star’s achievements.
The only foreseeable problem is that is has been almost entirely campaigned in Ireland to date and if he is only runs sparingly in England, it will be harder for racing fans to warm to him.
Grey horses more than any other have the knack of having an appeal, with Desert Orchid the ultimate example of this.
Grands Crus has the capacity to be another loveable grey, even if his stock diminished when a beaten favourite last time in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
However, Kauto Star was a beaten favourite on his first Festival start when falling in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and like Kauto, Grands Crus is known to love Kempton, where he has already landed a Feltham Chase.
He is 5/1 to win the King George and a victory could begin the next streak in the race.
Looking a little further down the line, Sprinter Sacre is another to have similarities with Kauto Star, primarily because of his novice dominance of the 2m chase division, as he showed when running away with the Arkle at Cheltenham.
He looks set to stay in the 2m ranks this season when stepping up to the Champion Chase, but he will need to step up in trip to 3m2f for the Cheltenham Gold Cup if he is to gain the full love of race fans.
This does remain a possibility as he ages, but for now he is the 1/1 favourite to win the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date