Best I Ever Saw - Hugh Cahill: 'He was a gorgeous looking horse'

Ruby Walsh's famous companion gets the RTE legend's vote for the GOAT

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Cahill has been the lead anchor for RTE at Olympic Games, Football and Rugby World Cups

Hugh Cahill is one of the most recognisable faces in racing. 

Over a decade, he has fronted RTE's racing coverage and led their team at numerous big Festivals meetings at home and abroad. He has enjoyed a box-seat view of a glory era for the sport in Ireland. 

But who is the best horse he's ever seen? 

At the 2007 Cheltenham Festival I saw Kauto Star’s first Gold Cup, with Ruby Walsh on board. 

I was working for a radio station in Ireland called Newstalk at the time and this was my third year in a row going to the Festival. 

I had been following Kauto Star since he started his career over two miles. 

I happened to be standing at the final fence as he jumped the last to go and win. I had a few quid on him to win but even just to watch him do his thing, he was an incredible horse to watch. 

I was really lucky to get to see him in the flesh, that’s a real standout moment for me. 

Watching the Cheltenham Festival on TV gives you a certain perspective but I don’t think you realise how steep the hill is until you go there and stand towards the winning line. 

In a Gold Cup, racing for three miles and two furlongs, it’s a test of endurance and jumping. To watch him come up after doing three miles one and a half furlongs and having to jump the last fence, I couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief until he cleared that last. 

I remember watching him thinking ‘please just make it over the fence’ and then it was just pure elation. I’ll never forget it, it was an incredible feeling. 

It was a pinch yourself moment, to be there in a work capacity. The week itself at Cheltenham is crazy, it’s full on. 

By the time Friday came that year I was running on fumes but that Gold Cup win really gave me a massive boost. 

Kauto Star was a gorgeous looking horse. I remember the first time I saw him run in a two-mile chase at Exeter. 

He fell at the second last fence having been leading and Ruby got him back up, he clattered the last fence again but he was still closing on the winning horse. 

He had so much talent that he was able to almost beat the horse that had passed him when he hit the deck. 

He was so quick, he was good enough to win a two-mile chase and then go on to win a three and a quarter mile Gold Cup. 

He had balls, he had stamina, he had pace, he was a good-looking horse, for me he had absolutely everything. 

Colm Murphy trained probably my favourite hurdle horse of all time, Brave Inca. 

Hardy Eustace, Brave Inca, Harchibald, that was a great hurdling rivalry. They were all trained by Irishmen as well which was brilliant. 

He was, as his name suggests, brave and he just gave absolutely everything.  

There was a huge question mark over whether he would ever win a Champion Hurdle because Hardy Eustace was so good but he did in 2006. For Brave Inca to win it over those two was brilliant. 

Hurricane Fly was also special. He is probably the best jumper of a hurdle I’ve ever seen. Ruby said to me: “I could throw that horse into every single hurdle and he just went for it!”  

Hardy Eustace, Brave Inca, Harchibald, that was a great hurdling rivalry.

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