Steve Cauthen remembers King George hero Reference Point as 'one of the best'

Sat 29 Jul 2017

American riding ace Steve Cauthen took the British scene by storm in the 1980s, yet he only won the midsummer highlight, the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, once.

That came on the redoubtable Reference Point, who appeared at just about every gig at the height of the season in his Classic year, 1987.

The highly-likeable colt usually did things the hard way, too, by making all the running and warding off all challengers. His style of racing made him the ideal foil for Cauthen.

Although Reference Point had won the Derby, he had gone to Ascot on the back of a defeat to Mtoto in the Coral-Eclipse. The King George came only three weeks after Sandown, but reports from Sir Henry Cecil's stable suggested he had taken that race better than he had done at Epsom.

He had to be at his absolute peak as well to see off quality opposition he faced at Ascot that included his contemporaries - the Irish Derby hero Sir Harry Lewis and Unite and Bourbon Girl, who were first and second in the Oaks at Epsom.

The older generation turned up in force, as well, with the durable French mare Triptych, Celestial Storm, Moon Madness, Tony Bin and German champion Acatenango all in attendance.

Soft ground made it more difficult for them all, but Reference Point did not shirk the issue, as Cauthen ensured the race was played to his strengths as the stamina-laden colt beat Celestial Storm by three lengths, with Triptych third, to become the ninth horse to win the Derby and the King George in the same year.

Cauthen recalled that day in July and hailed Reference Point as one of the best horses he ever sat on.

"It's hard to believe it's 30 years ago," he said from his Kentucky home in America.

"It was a very strong field and he proved that day that on the right track, over the right distance, he was a very talented horse.

"He was a real superstar horse. He never ran a bad race. The only race he struggled in was the Arc de Triomphe, when he wasn't right. He was found to have a spinal fracture that day.

"Mtoto was a damned good horse. He was a older horse. At that stage of the year, an older horse has an advantage.

"He was one of the best horses I rode, no doubt."

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