Paul Nicholls still desperate for Kauto Star to compete

Trainer Paul Nicholls says it’s not a “foregone conclusion” that Kauto Star will miss the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 16.

The two-time winner of the big race fell in schooling at Ditcheat last Friday and on Thursday evening Nicholls revealed he was only 50-50 to make the line-up at Prestbury Park.

The champion trainer isn’t giving up hope, but stressed his stable star must be in peak condition again to bid for a third Gold Cup.

“He’s been sound ever since – he cantered on Saturday and he’s cantered every day since,” Nicholls told Sky Sports News.

“It was only when I got back from Cheltenham Media Day on Wednesday evening that Clifford (Baker) my head lad, who rides him every day, said: ‘he’s going okay but it’s 50-50 in my opinion, he might not get Cheltenham’ so I rang Clive (Smith) and said I thought we needed to tell everybody the situation we were in. That’s why we did it. We’re just hopeful.”

“He’s having physio already this morning. He’s going to canter as normal today. We’re hoping we can get him there. There’s just a chance that we might not be able to get him there so we thought we’d better let people know.”

“It’s very minor, he’s just a little stiff. It’s like anything, as you get a bit older and you take a little knock, it takes longer to get over it. If you paraded him out here now, no-one would know anything was wrong with him. It’s just a feel Clifford gets riding him. It’s very minor and it’s getting better every day.