Kauto Star “heading in the right direction” for Cheltenham fitness

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Paul Nicholls reports Kauto Star to be “heading in the right direction” as he battles to be fit for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday week.

The two-time winner of the race was rated only a 50-50 chance to make the race after a schooling fall two weeks ago but the champion trainer has been pleased with his recent progress.

Writing in his exclusive column at www.betfair.com/paulnicholls on Monday he said: “Again, nothing major to report on the Kauto Star front this morning, though we stepped up his work as we said we would.

“He had his physio and an hour on the walker, as per usual. And then he had a 10f canter with Five Dream. But, in addition to that, he had a canter up the hill with the same horse.

“We will keep adding to this workload and tomorrow he will do the same, but have two canters up the hill instead of one. Again, he is fine and we are heading in the right direction at the moment.”

Earlier owner Clive Smith said his charge’s chances of competing at Cheltenham will hinge upon a “D-Day” workout on Saturday.

He said: “I spent an hour with Kauto on Saturday and the physio seemed very pleased with him.

“But then I spoke to Clifford (Baker, Nicholls’ head-lad) and he said it very much depended on his work this week – if he has a setback any day it would not be good.

“Saturday is going to be D-Day, but I’m quite hopeful, having talked to various people about it, that he’ll make it (to Cheltenham).

“He’s sore around his neck and along his right flank, but he’s responding well to treatment. It’s whether he can improve sufficiently before the race.”

When asked if his odds of running in the Gold Cup have shortened since the news was broken last week, Smith added: “Yes, I’d say they probably have.”

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