Saturday 18 November 2017

Sit back, have a pint and enjoy Kauto gold run

Wayne Bailey

"WHEN money's tight and hard to get, and your horse has also ran...When all you have is a heap of debt -- a pint of plain is your only man" -- Flann O'Brien

As the festival enters the closing stages, how was it for you? Many horses have run, many horses have been beaten -- and if you were one of those unlucky souls who relied on the 'four bankers' in a Yankee this year, you'll have to decide if you want return across enemy lines and back Kauto Star (NAP) to try and get your money back in the Gold Cup today (3.20).

Depending on how good or bad you've fared over the previous three days, it may be best to just retire with a pint of plain and sit this one out. But then you'd have nothing to tell the grandkids, so it's back to battle we go...

Regular readers will know that I was always keen to oppose Master Minded, so thankfully, I didn't partake in the Yankee specials on the four odds-on horses; but I've had a love-hate relationship with Kauto Star over the years, so I found it a little difficult to put some decent money on the 10-year-old to win today.

But the money is down now and there's no going back. When Sea The Stars won the Arc in October, many of those that had opposed him all along had to admit that he was simply the best. A certain opposition had built up against him and there were plenty of analysts just waiting for him to get beat so they could say: "I told you so."

It didn't happen, however, and he'll go down as one of the best ever. I'll admit that I feel the same about Kauto and was always a Denman fan from the start. I just couldn't warm to Kauto early on somehow, and I'm not quite sure why. In a moment of weakness, I got caught up in the hype and switched allegiance to Kauto at the last minute during the 2008 festival, the year Denman won the Gold Cup. I was raging with myself afterwards and it probably put me off Kauto even more. Last year, I decided to oppose Kauto and he goes and wins the darn thing!

I've always been on the wrong side of my bets with this horse, so you can understand why I was reluctant to put the money down again. But following Kempton, I've begrudgingly come around and there's no point in denying that he's one of the best chasers of all time. It's a real shame that Denman is not back to his best, as this could have been the clash of the decade, but he's become somewhat unreliable and can't be backed with confidence.

It sounds strange to say that a horse rated 182 can't be backed with confidence, but that just shows how good his opposite number actually is. If all horses run to form, Kauto Star should have around 10lbs in hand and I'm a little ashamed to say that this is the first time I've napped him. He's a strong selection today, if somewhat unoriginal.

I'll admit that the hunter-chasers that contest the Foxhunter race (4.00) will not be top of everyone's list of horses to back this season. But spare a little change for Roulez Cool, who has been improving no-end since arriving in Britain from France and the word on the street is that the seven-year-old is primed for today. Any market moves for the gelding can be seen as positive.

Seventeen of the last 19 Christie's Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (4.00) winners were aged 10 or younger, so you can narrow down the field quickly by crossing out the old-timers.

Irish Independent

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