Nicholls more optimistic on Kauto fitness

There's absolutely no doubt that Kauto Star is having a terrific season. Victories in the Betfair Chase and a fifth King George VI Chase at the age of 11 were no mean achievement. It's no surprise then that we are all watching the daily updates on his well-being that are coming out from the Paul Nicholls stable at Ditcheat.

The latest of these, issued yesterday, told us that Kauto Star will now gallop after racing at Wincanton on Friday. He'll work there with Mon Parrain, and Ruby Walsh will be there to ride and assess how he feels.

The latest positive sign has nothing to do with how the horse is moving out on the grass. Nicholls said, "What's particularly pleased me is that, aside from looking great, he came back from the work and had a good roll in his box, always a good sign with him. He looks happy and himself and Clifford (Baker, Kauto Star's work rider) is smiling." Apparently Kauto hasn't had his usual roll since taking a schooling fall nearly two weeks ago.

It's to be hoped that his recovery continues and that Kauto Star will be fit enough to take his place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup field next Friday. He certainly deserves to be there bidding for a third victory in the race. If he is and he goes on to win, it would be quite amazing, partly because his record at Cheltenham isn't actually all that good. The two Gold Cup victories are his only ones at the course, and he's taken two horrible falls in other races there.

But what would cement his place as one of the greatest steeplechasers ever is that he would be winning the race at the age of 12, making him only the third horse to do so in the history of the race, following in the footsteps of Silver Fame (1951) and What A Myth (1969).

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