As one Kauto rode off into the sunset to a well-earned retirement, another emerged onto the Grade 1 scene at Down Royal in the shape of Kauto Stone, who put up a fine performance to win the Chase by a length from local horse First Lieutenant, writes Elliot Slater.

The absence of the legendary Kauto Star from the Paul Nicholls stables was surely a big, if not unexpected, blow to the champion trainer.

However, Kauto Stone, a half-brother to the great horse, has quickly emerged to pick up the baton and could be set to attempt to emulate his sibling by tackling the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

Kauto Stone had landed the Grade 2 Ladbrokes Chase at Down Royal on his first start for Nicholls exactly a year earlier, and he clearly goes well at the Northern Ireland track.

Despite taking a fierce early hold under Daryl Jacob, he saw out the three mile trip in fine style, moving smoothly through to join issue at the second from home before staying on too strongly for quality opposition to score by a length.

Now a top priced 14/1 shot for the King George VI Chase, hopes will be high among fans claiming their Free Bet that Kauto Stone can continue his upward curve and not repeat last season’s somewhat disappointing efforts, following the initial excitement of his British debut win.

It might be that the six-year-old goes best when fresh, but he is only a six-year-old and has plenty of time on his side.

There is little doubt that the gelded son of With The Flow has tremendous potential though, and many people will be hoping that Nicholls’ charge can keep the family name up in lights and put up a big show at Kempton in December.

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