TRAINER PAUL NICHOLLS has confirmed that the main attraction of this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, Kauto Star, will run.
The 12-year-old had been a major doubt after suffering a bad fall in February.
Since then, however, Nicholls has provided regular updates on his fitness, and the gelding appeared to improve greatly with each passing day.
Today at Ditcheat, where Nicholls’ stable is based, Ruby Walsh took Kauto Star for a schooling session as a final barometer of his fitness. Nicholls described the results as “awesome”.
Writing for Betfair, Nicholls said:
“Clive (Smith, the horse’s owner) and I have given Kauto Star the green light for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a very good schooling session on the grass this morning.”
“Ruby came over to school him and Kauto was awesome, just as I’d thought he would be.”
“He jumped six fences – the plain fence and the open ditch three times each – and he was foot perfect and looked magnificent.”
“I have just put the phone down to Clive and, barring any mishaps in the next few days, Kauto lines up for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Friday. We are looking forward to it.”
Walsh tweeted after the session and was in buoyant mood.
Kauto Star has twice won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 2007 and 2009, both with Walsh in the saddle. Over the past five years, the gelding has been a major competitor in the race and is always strongly fancied.
Now, at 12 years of age, he will be up against the Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run, the reigning Gold Cup champion and five years his junior.