Star heads Gold entries

Kauto Star tops a bumper 49-strong entry for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Kauto Star tops a bumper 49-strong entry for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Paul Nicholls’ seven-year-old is unbeaten on all four starts this season, including impressive victories in the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the Stan James King George VI Chase at Kempton on his last outing.

Kauto Star is already the 11-8 favourite with the race sponsors and is one of six horses Nicholls has entered for the Festival feature.

The Ditcheat handler also has Cornish Rebel, Eurotrek, My Will, Neptune Collonges and Sleeping Night in the Grade One contest.

Last year's winner War Of Attrition leads a record entry of 14 possibles from Ireland.

Mouse Morris’ charge is the 4-1 second favourite with the sponsors despite failing to score in his last three starts this term.

The Willie Mullins-trained Hedgehunter finished a brave second in the blue riband last year and he could reoppose along with Forget The Past, who finished third for Michael O’Brien.

Francois Doumen’s L’Ami was fourth in 2006 and he is entered again along with Take The Stand (fifth), Monkerhostin (sixth) and Sir Rembrandt (seventh).

Other also-rans entered again include Ballycassidy, Kingscliff and Ollie Magern as well as Beef Or Salmon, a nine-time Grade One winner in Ireland but yet to finish better than fourth in four attempts for Michael Hourigan at Cheltenham.

Other eyecatching possibles include O'Brien's second runner In Compliance, winner of the John Durkan Chase, and The Listener who beat both War Of Attrition and Beef Or Salmon when taking the Lexus Chase on his last start.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Exotic Dancer, successful in both the Paddy Power and Gold Cup at Cheltenham already this season, and the Henrietta Knight-trained Racing Demon could again try their luck against Kauto Star having finished second and third in the King George.

Hennessy winner State Of Play, Welsh National victor Halcon Genelardais and David Pipe’s Our Vic, winner of the Charlie Hall Chase, are also amongst the high-profile possibles for the March 16 event.

Although the 2007 entry is slightly down on last year’s record of 64, it is equal to the previous highest number achieved in 2003 and Edward Gillespie, Cheltenham’s managing director, is anticipating another high-class renewal.

He said: “Kauto Star is one of those rare horses who has truly set the world of jump racing alight and it will be fascinating to see how he fares in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

“This year’s race has attracted a very high-quality entry and it is extremely encouraging to see a record number of horses engaged from Ireland.”

Supplementary entries for the three-mile-two-and-a-half-furlong contest can be made at a cost of £21,250 (€31,500) on March 10.

totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsors bet: 11-8 Kauto Star, 4-1 War Of Attrition, 8-1 In Compliance, 12-1 State Of Play, 14-1 The Listener, 16-1 Our Vic, 20-1 Exotic Dancer, Racing Demon, 25-1 Halcon Genelardais, 25-1 Hedgehunter, Monet’s Garden, 33-1 Beef Of Salmon, Cane Brake, Forget The Past, Hi Cloy, L’Ami, Monkerhostin, My Will, Neptune Collonges, 40-1 bar.

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