Legendary | Frankel, one of the most storied horses in the history of racing and one of the best of the new century, retired undefeated following his Champion Stakes victory (Image | Getty)

In the space of less than two weeks, horse racing has lost the two biggest jewels in its crown.

While flat racing fans look ahead gloomily to the post-Frankel era, national hunt fans lament the loss of Kauto Star – two of the most dominant horses in a golden era for racing.

Somewhat inevitably, Prince Khalled Abdulla retired Frankel immediately after his victory in the Champion Stakes on 20 October.

The four-year-old finished his career thirteen races unbeaten, notching up a remarkable nine consecutive Group One victories, including the 2000 Guineas and cementing his place as the world’s best racehorse.

Frankel will now begin a career at stud, where it is estimated that he will cover some of the best thoroughbred mares in the world for a fee of around £100,000 each time. Essentially, Frankel will go from racing megastar to the world’s most lucrative gigolo.

The superstar colt, trained by Sir Henry Cecil, captured the hearts of racing fans all over the world. Frankel’s breathtaking performances, combined with his legendary and most likeable trainer, earned him a level of popularity previously unseen in flat racing. Indeed, Frankel drew sold-out crowds on his own. One must wonder, therefore, what impact Frankel’s retirement will have on flat racing’s revenue?

Much like Frankel, but over a larger time frame, Kauto Star captured the hearts and minds of National Hunt fans across Britain and beyond. Indeed, from a personal point of view, it was Kauto Star that first got me into horse racing (a line I have heard many times since his retirement.)

Kauto’s popularity is much like Frankel’s in that it was a combination of unparalleled success, an attractive appearance and a likeable trainer. Across his career, Kauto won a record-breaking five King George VIs and was the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup, having lost it to his stablemate and great rival (another reason for his popularity) Denman.

Plaques | Kauto Star’s career may not have ended in success, but that doesn’t take away from the 12-year-old’s incredible list of honours (Image | BBC)

At the age of 12 and given that he was pulled up in his last race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, it was right for Kauto to be retired now, in good health.

However, he will leave a gaping hole in the world of National Hunt. His story was one that people could buy into. He was the champion and the favourite, then he was the underdog, the horse that should be retired, then, overnight, he was the champion again. It was a comeback story worthy of a Hollywood movie and the fans loved it.

Undoubtedly, Kauto was the greatest steeplechaser of our generation but also the most popular and it remains to be seen whether the likes of Sprinter Sacre can replicate such public adulation and success on the track.

Frankel and Kauto Star were, unquestionably, the two biggest names in British horseracing, if not the world, and their loss will be enormous for racing. For me, we will never see another two like it and for that reason, it is difficult to view the future of British racing with optimism.

In an era when horseracing is lambasted and kicked from pillar to post over a number of issues, it needs figures like Frankel and Kauto that will not only unite racing fans but also draw positive attention from the outside. Both horses were two of the very few, if only, horses that I have seen grace the backpages of British newspapers for positive reasons.

More than this, however, their retirements could spell another financial downturn for racing. As previously mentioned, Frankel could sell-out crowds on his own and it was no different for Kauto Star.

Of course, people will still go to watch racing but I think it’s unlikely that meetings at the likes of Haydock, Newbury and Newmarket will sell out now without the draw of racing’s two superstars.

That said, racing certainly has future stars in waiting and it won’t be long until racing fans are jumping on the bandwagon of another superstar thoroughbred. Their problem, though, will be replacing the irreplaceable.

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