RUBY WALSH: Kauto Star’s welfare comes before anything else

I have to say I’m rather philosophical regarding Kauto Star’s likely participation in the Gold Cup.

I’m praying he will make the race, of course, but if not then it will simply be a case of getting on with life.

He did take a very heavy tumble in that indoor school at Ditcheat. Basically, he stood a mile off the obstacle and crashed right into it.

Obviously, the next week or so will be vital, but a full recovery has to be made before Paul Nicholls and Clive Smith will allow him to run.

In any case Kauto doesn’t owe Paul, Clive, myself or the public anything. The only ones who might have a case are the bookmakers, because he did take plenty off them over the years.

I think most of us thought he was finished after pulling up at last year’s Punchestown festival. If you told me then he would come back to win yet another King George and a Betfair Chase then I’d have eaten the hand off you.

It will be a shame should he not get a final shot at the Gold Cup. But the welfare of the horse is what matters and all we can do now is to wait and see how the situation pans out over the next few days.

I’m at Newbury today for four rides, but realistically haven’t any great cause for optimism. If I come back across the Irish Sea tonight with a winner under my belt then that will represent a more than satisfactory outcome.

Niche Market starts my afternoon in a handicap chase over an extended three and a quarter miles. Truth to tell, he will need every yard of the trip.

His target is the National at Aintree, so we will be looking for some encouragement at least. He was beaten a long way into second at Aintree last time and has his share of weight, but the better ground should help.

I’d be more optimistic about Aerial in another handicap chase. He was fourth to The Giant Bolster at Cheltenham in late January and could never really get in a blow at that winner.

We will be racing downhill here immediately after the start and it will be vital to get a good position. I’d say we’ll fly to the first fence, which will be good practice for Cheltenham! Aerial should go close.

Sire Collonges is making a belated seasonal debut — absent for 331 days — in a handicap hurdle. He’s a light-framed horse and easy to get fit, but again has his share of weight.

I end aboard Subtle Sovereign in the bumper. He was fourth at Wincanton on his debut and has a chance — no more.

I have three rides at Leopardstown tomorrow and again it is just a case of hoping for the best. That said I have a good shot at the opening maiden hurdle with Lord Gale.

He’s no flying machine and is well-exposed, but this does look a rather modest contest. Lord Gale was third to Bridgets Pet at Naas and to win now we have to reverse placings with Troubled, who took second spot.

I think we will because Lord Gale made a bad mistake at the second last at Naas. He is fit and well and, hopefully, the better ground might bring about some improvement.

I ride two horses for my dad in handicaps, That’ll Do Me over flights and Colbert Station in a chase. That’ll Do Me will find two miles on the sharp side and has been climbing the weights to boot, so I can’t really recommend him.

My worry with Colbert Station is that he is now tackling handicappers with just two runs over fences under his belt.

He won a beginners chase at Leopardstown, but there is a vast gulf between going around in a contest like that, compared to this test.

I cannot put up any of my seven rides for the weekend as nap material, so will rely on one of Willie Mullins’ at Navan today, Perfect Gentleman, in a maiden hurdle.

He looked like winning at Thurles last month, over two miles and six, but was eventually beaten into second by Mini Vic.

Perfect Gentleman can be very keen and I’ve a feeling this two miles may prove a far more suitable assignment.

After racing at Leopardstown tomorrow Willie will be working some of the Cheltenham team and that is something to keep an eye on.


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