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King kauto raring to go
26 Feb 2012

Kauto Star is reported to be in tremendous shape ahead of his bid for a third Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup success next month.

The only horse ever to regain the crown after adding success in 2009 to his first two years earlier, Clive Smith's gelding has been in irresistible form this term, defeating 2011 hero Long Run in both the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase, and has been unaffected by the recent coughing outbreak among some horses at trainer Paul Nicholls' stables.

Nicholls said: "He's in good form. Clifford (Baker) worked him on Saturday morning and we've got three weeks to get him in tip-top form."

His half-brother Kauto Stone is also on target for Cheltenham with the Queen Mother Champion Chase rather than the Ryanair Chase looking the more likely option after he ran too free in the Ascot Chase last time.

"He's in the Ryanair and the Champion Chase and we've got to make a decision," the Ditcheat trainer said.

"If he ran in the Ryanair the way he did at Ascot he won't get home so we might look at the Champion Chase."

Nicholls is unlikely to pitch Dodging Bullets into the JCB Triumph Hurdle, even though he ran ante-post favourite Grumeti to a length and a half in the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle on his debut over jumps at Kempton on Saturday.

"He ran a great race. I'll probably go to Aintree with him. He's a bit green and inexperienced to be going to the Triumph," he said.

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