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Time will tell for fallen Star

KAUTO STAR'S hopes of winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup for a third time hang in the balance as he is rated at just "50-50" to run in the race two weeks today.

Trainer Paul Nicholls yesterday revealed the news that his stable star had suffered “an awful fall” while schooling with Ruby Walsh last week in front of owner Clive Smith.

Nicholls had withheld the news hoping that the horse would come right in the meantime and, although he has still cantered every day since, his Gold Cup bid remains in doubt.

The trainer revealed: “There is no easy way to say this, but Kauto Star is only 50-50 to make the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a fall schooling.

“Kauto took a tumble when Ruby schooled him at the end of last week. I say a tumble, but in truth it was a pretty awful fall.”

Kauto Star had been primed for a fascinating clash with last year’s Gold Cup winner, Long Run, who he has beaten in both the Betfair Chase and the King George already this campaign.

Nicholls continued: “Even though he trotted sound, it was plain to see that he was sore afterwards.

“He has had the best veterinary and physiotherapy care possible but we hoped that he could be showing more improvement by now. I spoke to Clifford after returning to the stables after a Cheltenham media day yesterday, and he said Kauto still wasn’t fully recovered, remained quite |stiff, and in his wise words |he felt he was ‘only 50-50’ to

make the Festival at this stage.

Walsh said: “We were schooling, it was pretty routine and he was in great form but unfortunately he miscalculated going towards one of the last we were going to jump and fell quite heavily.


“He was probably around that school 1,000 times, it is unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

Walsh added: “A lot can happen in 24 hours in a horse’s life, let alone two weeks.

“Horses fall – that is part of racing. Unfortunately, it is not great timing, but it happened. A lot will depend on what happens in the next 10 days.

“If he is right, he will run, if he is not, he won’t. It is the Gold Cup – you can’t go there half-cocked.”

Bookmakers suspended betting on the race momentarily and Long Run is now a best priced 13/8 to win the race with Paddy Power, who go 4/1 on Kauto Star ‘with a run’.

Long Run is a general 6/4 shot with Kauto Star 4/1 with most firms.

On the same day as Nicholls rated Kauto Star’s chances of running in the Gold Cup as |50-50, Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins reported his top Cheltenham hopes to be in excellent form.

Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Boston Bob were among a string of Mullins’ team to go through their paces at the |Curragh earlier this week.


Mullins, who is favourite to be leading trainer at the |Festival later this month, |said: “I am very happy with how they went.

“They all worked well and they jumped very well, |particularly Boston Bob, his jumping was immaculate, he just looks a real natural.

“It’s a matter of keeping them sound from now until Cheltenham.”

Meanwhile, jockey Robbie Power accepts that his |Champion Hurdle mount Oscars Well will find it difficult to topple Hurricane Fly from his perch, but does envisage a good run from last year’s unlucky Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fourth.