Nicholls: I want Kauto at Down
Kauto Star, who was yesterday handed a rating of 190 at the Anglo-Irish Jump Racing Awards in London, may begin life with that astronomic rating in Down Royal where he drew the crowds back in 2008.
Paul Nicholls admitted at the lunch yesterday that: "If I had my way we might go to Down Royal in November. I think that's a good place to start."
Kauto Star was a facile 11-length victor of the JNWine.com Champion Chase at the Northern Ireland venue on his only start on these shores and Nicholls is clearly conscious of getting the 10-year-old's campaign off to a straightforward start rather than tackle Haydock where the two time Gold Cup winner has at times been a tad below par.
"The big race then is the King George at Christmas," continued Nicholls. "And then we will have a go at the Gold Cup again."
Nicholls certainly wasn't ruling out another multiple Grade One season for the apple of his eye.
"We were of the opinion before this year's Gold Cup that he was as good as ever, you never know but I suspect he will be as good as ever in the autumn."
Kauto Star's old foe, stablemate and next-door neighbour Denman, is rated 8lb below Kauto Star, a mark that might make a third tilt at winning the Hennessy too tough a mountain to climb, which could mean Irish racegoers are yet again in for a treat.
"Denman looks fantastic. I'm not sure it will be the Hennessy first. It would be awfully hard to win off a mark of 182, and I don't want to give him too hard a race and put him off. We may have a look at Haydock or possibly Leopardstown."
Nicholls was also responsible for the Horse Of The Year, which was decided by public vote, and he also claimed the leading staying hurdler award.
Irish honours were won by Big Zeb, who took the champion two-mile chaser gong, while Tony McCoy collected a 15th champion jockey title and the JP McManus-owned Binocular retained the two-mile hurdler's title.