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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 19:42 GMT
Kauto team hail Gold Cup 'superstar'

By Frank Keogh
BBC Sport at Cheltenham

Ruby Walsh on Kauto Star
Kauto Star silenced his critics with victory at Cheltenham

Kauto Star was heralded as a racing 'superstar' after he capped a brilliant campaign with victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The seven-year-old Paul Nicholls-trained horse silenced critics of his jumping to land the blue riband event of steeplechasing.

It meant the winner, expertly ridden by Ruby Walsh, landed a 1m bonus for the team behind its successes.

"Everyone wants a superstar and we have one. He's a hell of a horse to be associated with," said Walsh.


Kauto Star brushed the final fence, but never looked in real danger as he powered to a two-and-a-half length victory over Exotic Dancer, with Turpin Green a further two lengths back in third.

Owner Clive Smith will pocket 750,000 of the Betfair Million, which was offered to any horse which could win the season's three big chases at Haydock, Kempton and Cheltenham.

I'm amazed the horse keeps getting knocked - you've got to be positive in this game

Trainer Paul Nicholls

Smith is estimated to have won another 100,000 in bets on the horse, including a wager of about 30 when his odds were 140-1.

He kept backing Kauto Star as the price dropped and even had another 100 on him at about 13-8 on the morning of the race.

"The money will be spent somehow, but the Gold Cup will be there forever," said the 56-year-old, who accumulated his personal wealth by designing and building golf courses.

Walsh wins 100,000, as does Nicholls, with his stable staff at the yard in Ditcheat, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset, sharing 50,000.

The victory vindicated the champion trainer, who always insisted the horse would be suited by the race, despite some suggestions he may not complete the contest or his stamina would fail.

"You do get annoyed sometimes. I'm amazed the horse keeps getting knocked - you've got to be positive in this game," he said.

"I'm very proud. It's great for our team, great for the west country and great for racing."

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