Kauto Star Aiming to Join Racing Immortals
After becoming the first horse ever to regain chasing’s Blue Riband last season, Kauto Star will bid to emulate Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate with a third victory in the £475,000 Grade One totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
A total of 27 horses have been entered for the extended three and a quarter-mile chase, highlight of the fourth day of The Festival on Friday, March 19. This is the smallest number in recent times but compares favourably with the level of entries in 1964, 1965 and 1966 – 14, 13 and 18 – when Arkle won his three Gold Cups.
The Paul Nicholls-trained 10-year-old has looked better than ever this season and produced an imperious display of jumping on his latest start, beating Madison Du Berlais by a record 36 lengths in the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton – his fourth successive victory in the Boxing Day showpiece.
His chief rival this season looks once again to be stable-companion Denman, who had his rival seven lengths in arrears when winning the 2008 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and took the runner-up spot in last year’s contest after an interrupted preparation. On his only appearance so far this season, the 10-year produced one of the great weight-carrying performances of modern times to land the Grade Three Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November.
A strong hand for the champion trainer, bidding to become the first handler to win four successive totesport Cheltenham Gold Cups since Basil Briscoe (1932-35), may also include the Hennessy Gold Cup runner-up What A Friend, who has gone on to Grade One success in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown for part-owner Sir Alex Ferguson.
Other notable contenders include Imperial Commander, who took the Grade One Ryanair Chase at The Festival last season and went down by a nose to Kauto Star in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November. A potential Irish challenge of eight is headed by the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Cooldine, successful in last season’s Grade One RSA Chase, and the unexposed Glencove Marina.
Trainer Mark Bradstock is considering letting his star chaser Carrurthers take on the very best at Cheltenham on Friday, March 19. The seven-year-old finished fourth in the RSA Chase at The Festival in 2009 and was a comfortable winner on his latest start at Newbury last month.
Bradstock revealed: “There are obviously Kauto Star and Denman, who are both fairly exceptional but, below that, it would be nice to think that we would be in with a shout of making the frame.
“I was over the moon with his run at Newbury because it cemented what he did in his novice season. The time was quicker than the Long Walk Hurdle on the same card so, while they didn’t appear to be going very fast, they must have been going a fair lick.
“He has come out of that race incredibly well but we have been held up by the weather and I would like to get another run into him before making any final decision regarding Cheltenham. We could go for the AON Chase at Newbury, where he would have to take on Denman, so the alternative could be the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day (Saturday, January 30).
“He is still a baby and he probably lacks a bit of experience at the moment but he is improving all of the time and we have plenty to look forward to with him. It would be fun to go for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and it would certainly be no disgrace to finish behind the likes of Kauto Star and Denman.”
THE totesport CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
Form Horse Age Owner Trainer
22506-P AIR FORCE ONE (GER) 8 Brian Walsh (Co Kildare) Charlie Mann
Latest totesport prices -
5/4 Kauto Star, 15/8 Denman, 16/1 Cooldine, Imperial Commander, 20/1 What A Friend, 33/1 Carruthers, Glencove Marina, Madison Du Berlais, Money Trix, Notre Pere, 40/1 Casey Jones, 50/1 Albertas Run, Tricky Trickster, 66/1 In Compliance, Rare Bob, Schindlers Hunt, 100/1 Air Force One, Aran Concerto, Calgary Bay, Mon Mome, My Will, Roll Along, Taranis, Trabolgan, 200/1 Cerium, Cloudy Lane, Mr Pointment
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