Kauto Star memorably beats Long Run to win the 2011 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park
Image by Toby Connors

Clive Smith, owner of legendary five-time King George VI Chase hero Kauto Star, admitted to being shocked and saddened by the news that Kempton could be closed for housing redevelopment.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star was one of the most popular chasers of the modern era, and brought the house down at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue when he broke Desert Orchid’s record by winning a fifth King George in 2011.

Kauto Star’s ashes rest under a statue of the great horse, which was unveiled in the Kempton parade ring on Boxing Day in 2014.

Smith told Press Association Sport: “It is quite a shock and it seems a great shame.

“There’s a statue of Kauto Star there in the middle of the parade ring so I’m not sure what will happen to that. It might get moved to Sandown, I suppose.

“I never thought something like this would happen, but you just never know.

“I know housing is a big thing at the moment, as is green space and rising birth rates, and things like that. There is so much to consider.”

The Jockey Club sent shockwaves across the sport on Tuesday when it announced Kempton could close by “2021 at the earliest” as part of a 10-year plan to invest at least £500million into British racing.

Kempton also has a floodlit all-weather Flat track, with the Jockey Club having announced proposals for a new racecourse to be built, potentially in Newmarket.

Should the proposed redevelopment go ahead, the King George will be moved to nearby Sandown, which will be a chief beneficiary of Jockey Club investments.