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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 November 2007, 14:26 GMT
Kauto battles to Haydock victory
Sam Thomas and Kauto Star jump the third-last at Haydock.
Kauto Star answered his doubters with a strong finish
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star edged out Exotic Dancer to win a second straight Betfair Chase at Haydock.

The 4-5 favourite, ridden by Sam Thomas and trained by Paul Nicholls, showed his class down the home straight to shrug off last month's loss at Aintree.

Ollie Magern made the early running and led by 20 lengths at one stage before being reeled in at the halfway point.

Barry Geraghty and Exotic Dancer (8-1) were followed across the line by Denis O'Regan on Beef or Salmon (28-1).

Kauto Star, who won all six of his races last season, was beaten on his seasonal return when giving weight away to Monets Garden in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

But, with new jockey Thomas deputising for the injured Ruby Walsh, he travelled well before a huge leap at the third-last took him clear of My Way De Solzen.

606: DEBATE

Robert Thornton's mount looked to be oozing confidence before tailing off after the second-last.

But then Exotic Dancer, who chased home Kauto Star in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, emerged as a real threat after the final fence.

But the seven-year-old showed real grit and determination in heavy conditions to triumph by a half length.

Nicholls was quick to point out afterwards that his horse had faced almost an impossible task at Aintree, giving away over a stone to Monets Garden.

The champion trainer said: "We're back on track, not that we were ever off it. I was never as disappointed last time as everybody else.

"This and the Gold Cup have always been his targets.

"Obviously there is one in between (King George VI Chase), but the Gold Cup is the one I want to win with him now. This shows we are back where we were."



SEE ALSO
Kauto Star loses on season debut
28 Oct 07 |  Horse Racing
The Kauto Star story
19 Nov 07 |  Horse Racing


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