Kauto Star jumps into Cheltenham Gold Cup reckoning

Stan James

Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

Bookmakers have slashed the odds of Kauto Star to 12/1 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup after beating Long Run by eight lengths in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The eleven-year-old was razor sharp for his season opener and jumped superbly to quiet speculation that he was ready for early retirement. The dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner arrived as fit as he has ever been and Paul Nicholl’s remarkable stable star put up one of his best performances to win the Haydock race for the fourth time.

Kauto Star had been 33/1 to win the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival next March, but after out-jumping the reigning Gold Cup champion Long Run down the back straight, bookmakers immediately slashed the Cheltenham veteran's odds by more than half and made him second favourite in the Gold Cup ante post market.

After the race StanJames.com spokesman Rory Jiwani said, "That was a magical performance from Kauto Star who showed he is still a top class chaser at the age of 11. But Long Run's jumping surely cannot be as bad as that again, and he is still a worthy favourite for both the King George and Cheltenham.”

Timeform rated Kauto Star’s run as his best ever at Haydock and spokesman Tony Calvin said: "We provisionally have Kauto Star running to a figure of 178. That is his best ever bare form rating in a Betfair Chase, a race he has now won four times.

"However, that is still 13lb short of the stunning 191 figure he achieved in winning the 2009 King George by a distance. Long Run is judged to have provisionally run to a figure of 170, some 12lb below his best effort, which came when winning his King George."

Kauto Star is now set to bid for an historic fifth King George VI Chase where jockey Ruby Walsh could face a selection dilemma after dual Champion Chase winner Master Minded won the Amlin Chase at Ascot and could line up against his stable mate in the Kempton feature.

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