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Kauto headed for Punchestown debut

Paul Nicholls’ chaser is targeting the Guinness Gold Cup on May 4 as his final contest of the season.

Image: Alan Crowhurst/PA Archive/Press Association Images

TWO-TIME CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP winner Kauto Star is heading to Kildare after trainer Paul Nicholls confirmed that the 11-year-old will race at this year’s Punchestown Festival.

Rather than travel to Aintree for the Grand National meeting, connections have chosen to allow Kauto an extra few weeks of rest, earmarking the Guinness Gold Cup on May 4 as their target.

After a disappointing start to the season, one of the best chasers in recent memory proved that he was back to form, running excellently into third place in an exhilarating renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Speaking to Racing UK yesterday, Nicholls was full of praise for Kauto’s performance which dispelled any suggestion that the horse should retired sooner rather than later.

He had a hard race and ran an absolute blinder really, it certainly put all those who said he should retired right, and he’s fresh and well.

He ran a blinding race and the idea now is he goes to Punchestown. He’s not going to Aintree so it should be ideal for him.

One person who will be travelling to Aintree, however, is Kauto’s regular partner, Ruby Walsh.

Fresh from another massively successful Cheltenham Festival where he was once again crowned as top jockey, the Kildare man has decided that he will partner ante-post favourite The Midnight Club in this year’s Grand National on April 9.

The fact that Walsh has opted to ride Willie Mullins’ 10-year-old will almost certainly cement the horse’s place at the head of the market, with some bookmakers currently showing prices as low as 8/1.

Paul Nicholls’ Niche Market had been suggested as another possible mount for Walsh, with regular jockey Harry Skelton now booked for the ride instead.

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Niall Kelly

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