Champion trainer Paul Nicholls can barely hide his delight at the current wellbeing of his outstanding veteran Kauto Star who remains bang on course to try and win a third Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Prestbury track on March 16, writes Elliot Slater.
Written off by many punters who bet on racing after being beaten into third in last season’ King George VI Chase and Gold before pulling up on his final outing of the season at Punchestown, Kauto Star has returned to the fray this season arguably as good as he s ever been in twice handing out a beating to the last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run.
Assumed to be the fitter of the two when scoring by eight-lengths in a highly emotional Betfair Chase on his first outing of the term at Haydock in November, the Clive Smith-owned French bred gelding put up another astounding performance when again proving good for the five years young current champion in landing the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day for the fifth time in his career, beating Long Run by a length-and-a-half.
Nicholls cannot believe just how well the old boy is at present and reports him to have put on weight since the Kempton contest and to be working with as much, if not more zest than ever before. The Ditcheat handler also observes that in his opinion Kauto star has never looked better in his coat and that despite sub-zero temperatures the horse is itching to get out on the gallops and prepare for his next outing.
Bookmakers rate Long Run the favourite to score at Cheltenham at 5/2 but horse racing tips are also backing Kauto Star,(who was as big as 20/1 for the race at the start of the season), who is now a rock solid 4/1 second favourite to make yet more history by winning back the title he first landed in 2007 and won again in 2009.