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Fading Star? No snap decisions on possible Kauto retirement, says Nicholls

Follow The Plan took the big one at Punchestown yesterday. But is it the end for an old favourite?

Follow the Plan ridden by Tom Doyle goes on to win the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown as Robbie Power falls from Roberto Goldback at the final fence yesterday.
Follow the Plan ridden by Tom Doyle goes on to win the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown as Robbie Power falls from Roberto Goldback at the final fence yesterday.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

TRAINER PAUL NICHOLLS insists he won’t be rushed into making any calls on the future  of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kauto Star after he failed to contend in the  Punchestown equivalent last night, and was pulled up by jockey Ruby Walsh.

He’s now at the veteran age of 11, but trainer Paul Nicholls says this isn’t necessarily the end.

“He’s fine. I’ve never run him in May before and he seemed in good order at home but obviously hasn’t fired,” Nicholls said.

“I won’t make any rash decisions – even six-year-olds can run over-the-top in May.

“I’ve done things a little different with him this year to get him ready for the Gold Cup. I might have been a little easier on him for this. If he came back in the autumn and ran like that, we would retire him.”

The festival continues this afternoon with the first going to post at 3.40, the feature is the World Hurdle at 5.30.

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Yesterday, It was another story with a fairytale ending when the grade 1 Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup went the way of the Oliver McKiernan trained Follow The Plan.

Jockey Tom Doyle said afterwards he was confident Follow The Plan would have taken Robert Goldback, despite trailing in second place going into the final fence, where the latter came to grief after unseating his rider.

It opened the door open for the eight-year-old to leave the field behind before going on to win by 11 lengths, as the Redgap Partnership celebrated.

Winning trainer Oliver McKiernan admitted afterwards he believed Follow The Plan was set for a place as he travelled to the Kildare venue, but still he was hopeful of a visit to the winner’s enclosure since he was also a strong finisher. Throughout the day all of the predictions centred on the 10/11 favourite Kauto Star who pulled up.

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