Monday, November 21, 2011

Kauto Remains A Star Of The UK National Hunt Scene

Well we cannot say we were not told, trainer, Paul Nicholls had been saying all week that Kauto Star had never been better at home ahead of Saturday's tilt at the Betfair Chase. Jockey, Ruby Walsh, warned the Bookmakers that the 11 year old was far too long in terms of odds and of course Kauto Star had already won the Betfair Chase three times in the past. Moreover, the legendary gelding had won four of his last five seasonal openers and is always at his best when fresh.

These facts and warnings of course were mostly ignored as the money poured into the waiting clutches of the Bookmakers, the vast majority of it aimed in the general direction of race favourite, Long Run. Last season’s top chaser, went off in the end as a short price 6/5 favourite with Kauto Star a very modest 6/1. Even Diamond Harry, having his first run since winning the Hennessy Gold Cup 12 months ago went off shorter in price. In fact there were only very few who believed that the two time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and four time King George Chase winner, could win the Betfair Chase for a fourth time.

But win it he did and in such style that he broke the course record finishing an impressive eight lengths in front of Long Run and a further two lengths clear of recent Charlie Hall Chasse winner, Weird Al in third. Nicholls and Walsh having discussed the tactics that they would use in the race the day before agreed that they were going to blaze a trail from the off and using Kauto’s brilliant jumping to pressure the rest. It was a tactic that worked to perfection, as one by one the quality field found the pace too much and were beaten. Long Run did put in a game effort at the end, but he was no match on the day for Kauto Star with Walsh on board riding him with great poise and purpose.

Nicholls was quick to let the media and horse racing world know that Kauto will now definitely take his chance in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day where he will be looking for a record breaking fifth win. He will undoubtedly be meeting Long Run again in that race, last year’s winner, will improve for this first run of the season, but he will have his work cut out to beat Kauto Star in this form.

Nonetheless, the Bookmakers make Long Run the 6/4 favourite for the Boxing Day spectacular, with Kauto Star and stablemate, Master Minded, who also returned to winning ways on Saturday both at 4/1. The Phillip Hobbs trained Captain Chris is next at 5/1.

Diamond Harry was a long way back by the end, but his trainer, Nick Williams will be pleased that he now has him running again and that there were no further setbacks during the race. Williams believes that the 8 year old will come on hugely for this run and that his next target would also be the King George.

Paul Webber was not too disappointed in the performance of his Time For Rupert confirming that he will continue to aim him for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March. He will be seen next in a Graduation Chase at Newbury in December and will have one more run after that before the Festival.

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