Astounded Nicholls insists Kauto Star has never looked better
HAVING surprised many with his rejuvenated form this campaign and just 13 days into his 12th year, Kauto Star continues to delight his trainer, Paul Nicholls, who yesterday maintained: "He's never looked as well."
The dual Gold Cup winner headed this week's Gold Cup entries with last year's winner, Long Run, and Nicholls is looking forward to the March rematch.
"You would have thought after 30 races and 19 victories for us - among them five King Georges, four Betfair Chases and two Gold Cups -- that I would have seen it all with Kauto Star, but the horse continues to astound me," said Nicholls.
"He came out of his box this morning, even with the temperature at minus one with a real spring in his step, and I can tell you now that I have never seen the horse looking better. Never."
The Clive Smith-owned 12-year-old is the current second favourite to win the Gold Cup for a third time and Nicholls continued: "He looked superb in his coat and if you thought he looked in great condition in the paddock at Kempton on St Stephen's Day, then you really should have seen him this morning.
"He looked magnificent."
Nicholls was also thrilled with how the horse has come out of his famous King George triumph, which yet again saw him rewrite the history books. "He has come out of the race unbelievably well, has put on weight after Kempton, and Clifford (Baker) can't believe how fresh he is," Nicholls went on.
"In truth, we would have liked to have done a little less with him, but he is so well in himself that we had to get him back cantering much earlier than expected."
The Gold Cup is just over two months away and he is one of five entries that Nicholls made for the race, and the champion trainer is just hoping to get Kauto Star there in similar form.
"He's in a real good place at the moment and if I can get him to Cheltenham on March 16 in the same kind of form he is in at the moment, then I will be a very happy man," he said.
Of his other Gold Cup entries, Nicholls added: "What A Friend came back a sick horse from Wetherby but he is back on track now, and the aim is for him to run in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury next month and then on to the Gold Cup.
"The Minack and Tidal Bay are both on course to take on Grand Crus and Time For Rupert in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham on January 28.
"The Minack would probably need soft ground to run in the Gold Cup but we will see how he gets on this month."