PAUL Nicholls led the tributes to Kauto Star proclaiming him "the greatest chaser of our time" after announcing the retirement of the Ditcheat Deity.
The champion NH handler said: "I have been very lucky to have him and he's been a privilege to train. It was a unanimous decision by the whole team from Clive Smith (owner) and Clifford Baker (head lad) and we all agreed he had nothing more to prove.
"It is great he goes out at the top and in great shape. We are all proud of him and grateful for what he achieved. We will look after him and he'll have an honourable retirement.
"My special moments? When he regained the Gold Cup in 2009 was one but when he won the Betfair at Haydock Park was an amazing day."
Regular rider Ruby Walsh said: "He has been a wonderful horse for me and it is very important he has gone out at the top and with his reputation intact. He is the sort of horse who only comes round once in a lifetime. He was a pleasure to ride and gave me so many wonderful times including my first Gold Cup – it had always been my ambition to win that one."
Wincanton-based Daryl Jacob – second jockey to Nicholls – said: "I schooled Kauto a couple of times and have a picture of me on him. He was a marvellous animal to deal with, a fabulous horse who was very tough, genuine and consistent with a big heart and who always wanted to please."
Fellow trainers were equally effusive. Colin Tizzard (Milborne Port) said: "He is the best horse I have ever seen in the flesh – he could win from two miles to three and a half. He had everything and raced every season – everything you look for in a racehorse, he had it all."
Anthony Honeyball (Mosterton near Crewkerne) said: "He was an amazing horse and I have always been a fan of his. I used to love Desert Orchid for the same reasons as Kauto: winning all those King Georges, the Gold Cup, the Tingle Creek and doing it on all sorts of ground at the top level."
Bob Buckler (Henley near Crewkerne) revealed a retirement of his own. He said that Double Dizzy was now set for the hunting field and team chasing after the 11-year-old stayer was pulled up in a Grade One chase at Auteuil, Paris, on Sunday.