Sport Horse Racing

Monday 22 May 2017

Nicholls 'so proud' of his old stagers

Keith Hamer

Paul Nicholls was full of pride after seeing Denman and Kauto Star go down fighting in an epic renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup but refused to be drawn on whether it was the last punters would see of them.

Dual winner Kauto Star fell away towards the end to finish third behind stable-mate Denman and winner Long Run but Nicholls was delighted with their races. He refused to be drawn on whether retirement beckons for his 11-year-olds, but saw more than enough in their individual performances to at least consider there are more big days for them yet.

"I don't know what the future holds. I've got to sit down and talk to the owners and I'm not going to make any quick decisions," the champion trainer continued. "Kauto has given his all and I don't know whether he'll want to run again this season.

"I always half felt Punchestown would suit him, but we'll give him a bit of time and see. There is nothing much left for Denman as he has to go left-handed and he won't go to Aintree.

"But on that sort of form, there is no reason both horses can't run again. Why can't Denman run again in the Hennessy next season? If either of them shows any sign at all that they can't run well any more, they won't.

"But they've been in great form at home and they showed today we made the right call in running them. Who's to say they won't be back here next year if we look after them? Take Long Run out, we'd have been first, second and third again.

"What A Friend ran a blinder and I thought he'd be in the first four if he ran up to his best back on this better ground. It was just an amazing race and I'm proud to be part of it."

Nicholls added: "I'm not disappointed at all, believe me (by not winning the race).

"Nobody likes getting beaten, but I'm just so proud of the horses. That race was great for racing. This marks the changing of the guard and I've never doubted that. Our two old boys put it up to Long Run, but he came through and he's the best young horse in training.

"We've got to try and find something to tackle him now, but that may not be so easy. Long Run is the champion now, but our horses have gone down in a blaze of glory."

Irish Independent

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