Kauto Star will bid for a third Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup victory after delighting connections in an “awesome” schooling session at his Ditcheat base.
The 12-year-old was feared a doubtful starter in Friday’s showpiece event when it emerged he had suffered a schooling fall at trainer Paul Nicholls’ yard earlier this month.
Nicholls was concerned about his condition after the tumble but after making massive strides in his recovery, Kauto Star was back on top form when enjoying a racecourse gallop at Wincanton on Friday.
Connections were keen to see how he fared in another schooling session before confirming his participation, but after pleasing Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh, Kauto Star will try to add to his Cheltenham wins in 2007 and 2009.
Nicholls told his Betfair column: “Clive (Smith, owner) and I have given Kauto Star the green light for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after a very good schooling session on the grass this morning.
“Ruby came over to school him and Kauto was awesome, just as I’d thought he would be.
“He jumped six fences – the plain fence and the open ditch three times each - and he was foot perfect and looked magnificent.
“I have just put the phone down to Clive and, barring any mishaps in the next few days, Kauto lines up for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Friday.
“We are looking forward to it.”
Smith praised the team effort in getting Kauto Star back on track for another tilt at the Gold Cup.
“We were very pleased with him this morning. He went very well, jumped the fences beautifully and it’s all systems go,” he said.
“We hope he’s right back to top form and we wouldn’t run him unless he was at his best, so we feel he’s all set for Friday.
“It’s all been due to a tremendous effort from the yard. Clifford Baker, as usual, has been absolutely brilliant with him as has the physio.
“Donna Blake and Rosie Loxton have been looking after him all the time and Paul Nicholls of course has been overseeing the whole operation and doing it very well.”