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Kauto Star set for track gallop before Cheltenham Gold Cup

Denman and Kauto Star with Paul Nicholls
Denman and Kauto Star with trainer Paul Nicholls

Dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star is to have a racecourse gallop ahead of bidding to regain his crown.

He is set to join fellow 11-year-old stablemate Denman, and 2010 winner Imperial Commander, as one of three champions in next month's race.

"I hope he might have a racecourse gallop beforehand," said champion trainer Nicholls.

Kauto Star was third to Long Run when seeking a fifth consecutive King George VI Chase win at Kempton in January.

But his Somerset-based trainer Nicholls said: "We're very happy with him and looking forward to running him."

He said the 2008 champion Denman, who has been runner-up in the past two renewals, was in fine form.

"Denman is not getting any younger either but he worked very nicely with Big Buck's yesterday and has had his breathing operation as we just felt he was fading at the end of his races," said Nicholls on Monday.

"He made no noise yesterday when he worked, he looks great in his coat and seems really fit and enthusiastic."

They're all great horses and if they can all get there, it's going to be a great race

Nicholls on Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander

Nicholls is likely to field two more runners. The 2008 third Neptune Collonges is still thriving while he will give What A Friend another chance despite his defeat to stablemate Noland in Friday's Aon Chase.

The trainer acknowledges six-year-old Long Run and Hennessy Gold Cup winner Diamond Harry were among younger rivals who could pose a threat to the previous winners.

"It's a really interesting, open contest," said Nicholls.

"You've got some nice young horses coming through and it's unfortunate that we lost a nice one on Saturday (in Pride Of Dulcote)."

"I'm talking Long Run and Diamond Harry as younger horses, then you've got the three older lads who have been there and done it.

"It's probably as open as we've seen for a long time but I still feel the older three of Imperial Commander, Denman and Kauto are the ones to beat.

"All three love the track, they're all great horses and if they can all get there, it's going to be a great race."

Nicholls is hoping another of last year's beaten champions can bounce back.

Two-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Master Minded was fourth to Big Zeb at Cheltenham in 2010.

"Obviously last season was a bit of a damp squib but Master Minded had a breathing operation and is a different animal since. He looks different this season as well," he said.

"We had him very fit for his first two runs and then we backed off him so, although it sounds strange to say it, I think he wasn't as fit last time as earlier in the season.

"But he looks fab now, he's going nicely and I think he has an outstanding chance at Cheltenham."

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see also
Long Run clinches Gold Cup glory
18 Mar 11 |  Horse Racing
Kauto Star fails as Long Run wins
15 Jan 11 |  Horse Racing
King Kauto dethroned
15 Jan 11 |  Horse Racing
Kempes romps to Leopardstown win
12 Feb 11 |  Horse Racing
Diamond Harry triumphs at Newbury
27 Nov 10 |  Horse Racing
Imperial Commander wins Betfair
20 Nov 10 |  Horse Racing
Imperial Commander lands Gold Cup
19 Mar 10 |  Horse Racing

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