Nicholls upbeat over Kauto Star Cheltenham bid

CHELTENHAM hero Kauto Star bid to land a third Gold Cup next week is on course after his trainer Paul Nicholls issued an upbeat bulletin on the 12-year-old’s condition following last week’s schooling accident which continues to threaten his participation.

The five-time King George VI Chase winner was rated 50-50 following his fall at Nicholls’ Somerset stables but was reported to be “heading in the right direction” after a solid workout yesterday.

“He had his physio and an hour on the walker, as per usual. And then he had a 10 furlong canter with Five Dream. But, in addition to that, he had a canter up the hill with the same horse,” said Nicholls of Kauto Star, whose battle with 2011 Gold Cup winner Long Run is set to provide the highlight of this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

“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.”

Owner Clive Smith said his charge’s chances of featuring at Cheltenham will depend on a “D-Day” workout on Saturday, adding: “I’m quite hopeful having talked to various people that he’ll make it.”