Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Dylan Jenear ValueChecker

Kauto Star to Have Racecourse Gallop Ahead of Gold Cup Bid

While addressing the media on Monday (February 21), champion trainer Paul Nicholls indicated that, in contrast to the gelding’s previous campaigns, Kauto Star may have a racecourse gallop as part of the two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner’s preparation for another tilt at jump racing’s blue riband at the Festival on March 18.

Kauto Star

Kauto Star

The Ditcheat handler said: ‘He looks the part in his coat and is no back number, but he’s a year older and might just benefit from a racecourse gallop before Cheltenham. He might go with Master Minded, although it’s not certain and it wouldn’t necessarily be for anything other than a gentle spin and for Ruby [jockey Ruby Walsh] to get back on him at a racecourse.’

It looks as though stable jockey Ruby Walsh will be fully fit in them for the Festival, for which he is clear favourite across the board for the Cheltenham Top Jockey Award, sponsored by Thomas Pink. Walsh last partnered Kauto Star when the 11-year-old made a winning reappearance at Down Royal in November. Subsequently, Tony McCoy was on board when Kauto was thwarted in his bid to land an historic fifth consecutive victory in the King George at Kempton.

Sent off at 4-7 for that Grade 1 contest, Kauto Star was beaten 19 lengths into third place behind the up-and-coming Long Run, and Paul Nicholls’ charge is now as big as 8-1 with William Hill and Boylesports to add the 2011 Gold Cup to his victories in 2007 and 2009. Long Run is a best-priced 13-2 with the same firms, while last year’s hero Imperial Commander is generally the 7-2 market leader.

In addition to Kauto Star, Nicholls has Denman amongst his four entries (Neptune Collonges and What A Friend being the other duo). ‘The Tank’, so impressive when winning the 2008 Gold Cup and a highly creditable runner-up last year, has undergone a breathing operation subsequent to finishing a cracking third off a mark of 182 in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. Denman, who can be backed at 7-1 for Festival glory, reportedly worked well under big-race partner Sam Thomas in a gallop recently.


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