Hard not to follow Star

THE way results have unfolded at Cheltenham this week, it won’t be any great surprise should Kauto Star bite the dust in today’s totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

But the punter who loses his head and allows logic to fly out of the door is doomed to failure and Paul Nicholls’ superb 10-year-old remains far and away the most likely winner.

He is best fresh, according to his trainer, and has been rested since producing one of the finest performances of his career in the King George at Kempton at Christmas.

Kauto Star made decent opponents look like carthorses that afternoon. He was literally doing half-speed up the straight and still crossed the line 36 lengths to the good.

That was his fourth King George success, to go with two Gold Cups, and such a record speaks for itself.

The evidence of his latest display is that there is no hint of a decline in his powers, he stays and jumps and the surface looks ideal.

Denman is his main challenger, at least in the betting. He annihilated Kauto Star in this two years ago, but a lot of water has flown under the bridge in the meantime.

The ground has gone against him and Denman arrives now on the back of a disastrous fall in the Aon Chase at Newbury.

The improving Tricky Trickster is the dark horse and if there is to be a shock then he might be the one to provide it.

He is, reportedly, being trained specifically for the Aintree Grand National, but this would be a tasty prize to pick up along the way!

I am hoping, and expecting, a big run from Cooldine, who was brilliant here a year ago when taking the RSA Novice Chase.

Willie Mullins has clearly geared his whole season round this and, you’d imagine, Cooldine is now primed for a major effort.

He was far from fully wound up when narrowly beaten by Joncol in the Hennessy at Leopardstown and substantial improvement is likely to be forthcoming.

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