Wednesday 29 January 2020

Kauto Stone signs off season on a high

KAUTO Stone made a successful seasonal bow as he landed the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Daryl Jacob, Kauto Stone was sent off a 4-1 chance and was noted travelling smoothly some way out before challenging at the second last.

The front-running First Lieutenant made a battle of it, but he had no answer as Kauto Stone pulled away after the last.

Bryan Cooper set out to make all on First Lieutenant and he was soon joined by fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner and last year's winner Quito De La Roque.

He was sent off as the 2-1 favourite after his 2011 success and that pair were also joined by Chicago Grey on the front end before he departed at the end of the first circuit.

Jacob, meanwhile, was trying to get Kauto Stone settled in behind as he was racing a little keenly in company with Joncol.

The order at the head of affairs hardly changed throughout but it looked like turning into a four-horse race as the leading duo began to push on, followed by Kauto Stone and Realt Dubh, who appeared full of running.

After doing all the leg work, the early effort began to tell on the Gigginstown pair and Realt Dubh was primed to challenge on the inside with Kauto Stone sitting on the outside.

However, Realt Dubh clattered the second-last fence and despite being switched to the outside to challenge again, he had lost valuable momentum and Kauto Stone assumed the lead.

Jacob had to keep pushing after the last as First Lieutenant bravely gave his all, but Kauto Stone was a length too good at the line with Quito De La Roque settling for third.

Kauto Stone was upholding the family tradition as he emulated the feat of his great half-brother Kauto Star, who won this race in 2008 and 2010.

Kauto Star also won five King George VI Chases and two Cheltenham Gold Cups before his retirement earlier this week and Paddy Power offer 20-1 about Kauto Stone hitting the Gold Cup jackpot.

Jacob told At the Races: "He did it nicely. He travelled well and we got a lovely lead through the race.

"I think he will improve from that.

"They went a nice, even gallop all the way. He travelled well in the Tingle Creek Chase (last year) so he was always going to travel well today.

"Paul is a master at keeping horses fresh and well and I'm sure he will have a nice target in mind for him at home."

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