Kauto Star cleared to race in Cheltenham Gold Cup - Nicholls

Cheltenham Festival

  • Date: 13-16 March
  • Races: 1330-1715 GMT

Coverage: 1300-1400 BBC 5 live sports extra, 1400-1600 BBC Radio 5 live; live text commentaries on BBC Sport website. Feature races: 1520 Tue Champion Hurdle, Wed Champion Chase, Thur World Hurdle, Fri Gold Cup

Twice winner Kauto Star is fit to line up in Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup, according to trainer Paul Nicholls.

The 12-year-old was rated "50-50" after a fall at Nicholls' Somerset yard.

But Nicholls has now revealed that Kauto Star will bid for a third Gold Cup with Ruby Walsh on board after coming through a schooling session.

"He came through with flying colours. I had a chat with Clive Smith, his owner, and we were happy to say 'Yes, he'll run'," Nicholls told BBC Sport.

KAUTO STAR FACTFILE

  • Foaled: 19 March 2000
  • Breeding: Village Star-Kauto Relka (France)
  • Races: 40
  • Wins: 23
  • Key victories: Cheltenham Gold Cup (2007, 2009); King George VI Chase (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011); Betfair Chase (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011)
  • Prize money: £2.4m
  • Trainer: Paul Nicholls
  • Usual jockey: Ruby Walsh
  • Owner: Clive Smith

"This morning he was fine. Obviously 10 days ago we sort of said we'd had a little problem with him but he's come through everything fine and galloped well at Wincanton on Friday.

"He needed to have a good schooling session which he did and Ruby is happy with him, so it's all systems go.

"He's won two but it will be an awfully hard race to win. He's there with a chance."

Asked whether the race would be the last for Kauto Star, winner in 2007 and 2009, Nicholls added: "Let's get Friday out of the way and then we'll talk about the future after that.

"We're delighted that he's going to lead the line-up in good shape but we'll look no further than Friday.

"He's been a great horse, his record speaks for itself."

Nicholls and Smith have been given a further boost in that Kauto Star's potential Gold Cup rival, the David Pipe-trained Grands Crus will not run in the showpiece race of the four-day festival.

Instead, the seven-year-old, trained by Pipe for owners Roger Stanley and Yvonne Reynolds, will compete in the RSA Chase for top novices on Wednesday (1440 GMT).

Smith hints at Kauto Star swan song

Kauto Star has become an iconic jump racing figure in a record-breaking career which included an unprecedented fifth King George VI Chase win in six years at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Since his fall when schooling over small obstacles on 26 February, Kauto Star has been having physiotherapy and an hour's exercise on a horse walker every day.

Nicholls said Kauto Star took "a pretty awful fall" when he broke the news six days after his tumble. And the horse's owner does not want to jeopardise the long-term health of one of racing's greatest steeplechasers.

"He's been a fantastic horse," said Smith. "I just want to have him around for a long, long time. It's not worth pushing him too far.

"He doesn't have anything else to prove. If he could just put in a nice performance, I'd be very pleased."