Kauto not out of King George picture

Kauto Star could have another run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, should the superstar gelding stay in training.

The 12-year-old was last seen being pulled up in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March, having suffered a fall in training in the lead-up to the blue riband.

Trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith have been keen to defer any decision about retirement until after the summer, and that remains the case after the five-times King George and dual Gold Cup winner paraded at the annual owners’ day at his Ditcheat base.

Smith said: “The idea is to see where we are in a month to six weeks. Clifford Baker (Nicholls’ head lad) rides him every day – if anybody is going to know it is him.”

Nicholls said: “We will give him a month’s work and then Clive and I will have a chat. There is only one possible race he can run in and that is the King George. He would not be ready for the Betfair Chase (at Haydock on November 24).”

Kauto Star has won 16 Grade One races to date during a magnificent career.

Although he became the first horse to reclaim the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2009, having firstly taken the holy grail of jumps racing in 2007, the esteemed chaser will also be fondly remembered for his startling five Kempton victories.

He made history in December 2009 when becoming the first horse to win four consecutive renewals of the King George, but even better was to come last season.

Many believed retirement beckoned when he was pulled up in the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup in May, but Kauto Star stunned the doubters with a fourth triumph on his comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, in which he defeated Long Run, the 2011 Gold Cup hero, by eight lengths.

Nicholls and Smith then sent him back to Kempton for the King George at Christmas, when he produced arguably his greatest performance with an easy length-and-a-quarter defeat of old rival Long Run. However, Kauto Star’s preparations for the 2012 Gold Cup suffered a major blow in late February after Nicholls revealed he had taken “a pretty awful fall” during a schooling session. Connections eventually give him the go-ahead to compete in the race, but Ruby Walsh’s partner was pulled up with a circuit remaining.

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