Kauto Star fires King George warning with Haydock victory
It takes something special to stun a trainer as used to winning as Paul Nicholls but even he admitted to being left speechless as Kauto Star showed that he isn’t ready to retire with an eight-length triumph in the Betfair Chase.
The most famous horse of the 21st century looked to have had his last hurrah with a spirited third-place finish in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, however Nicholls decided to keep him going and was rewarded in spectacular fashion at Haydock.
It was claimed that a poor performance might have prompted the end of a record-breaking career featuring two Gold Cups and four King George VI Chase victories, yet the gossip was silenced by an emphatic win over Cheltenham usurper Long Run.
Nicholls has since not only confirmed that he intends to prepare Kauto Star for a fifth King George assault at Kempton on Boxing Day, but told Sky Sports News that he rather than Master Minded should perhaps be rated the pick of his entries.
The eight-year-old chaser also came first in the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot on an unforgettable day for Nicholls and both are currently offered at 4/1 on Ladbrokes to prevail in the King George, with Long Run 6/4 favourite to enjoy revenge.
Kauto Star’s fairytale ride has made the prospect of a sixth Gold Cup appearance more likely, though by March he will be 12 and just two horses that old have triumphed before: Silver Fame in 1951 and What a Myth in 1969.
For that reason, a third Gold Cup is considered one dream too many, with odds of 12/1 available on further Cheltenham Festival glory, a price leaving him some distance behind Long Run at 5/2.