KAUTO STAR WINNING FITNESS BATTLE
Paul Nicholls believes he is "nearly there" in his battle to get Kauto Star fit for Cheltenham.
The 12-year-old was described as "50-50" for the Festival showpiece last week after it emerged he had suffered a schooling fall at Nicholls' Ditcheat yard.
Kauto Star has since made massive strides in his race to be fit for the blue riband and after delighting Nicholls in a gallop at Wincanton on Friday, the handler believes he is back on form.
"We're very happy. It was just what we wanted. He went nicely and was full of enthusiasm," he told Channel 4's The Morning Line.
"He came back last night and was straight into his grub. He ate up this morning and there's not a bother on him. We're really, really pleased.
"He's 100% sound this morning so we're very happy."
While dual Gold Cup victor Kauto Star appears to be back on track for the race, Nicholls will school him on Monday before committing to a run.
He said: "You don't have to decide (whether to run) until the day before technically, but we're going to school him on Monday morning.
"The signs are all good - he came out of that yesterday and he appears to be back to 100% normal now."
Kauto Star looked very fresh and well before his racecourse spin and Nicholls admits his improvement over the last seven days has been startling.
"That (his freshness) was just what we wanted to see. He'd been like that before he'd had the fall and a week is a long time with horses," Nicholls continued.
"The improvement from one Friday to the following was just absolutely unbelievable and we've still got a week to go. We're very happy with him and he's in great form now.
"You would be disappointed if he couldn't get there. We've still got five or six days to go yet, but we're more confident now.
"It would be fantastic if he could get there. We only want to run him not to make the numbers up, but to be competitive and have a big chance. What we saw yesterday will get him there. We're very nearly there."