Kauto heads Gold 19

Hot favourite Kauto Star heads a field of 19 declared for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

Hot favourite Kauto Star heads a field of 19 declared for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

Paul Nicholls’ top-class performer is within touching distance of a £1m (€1.5m) bonus, having already won the first two legs – the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase – of an unprecedented treble.

The Ditcheat trainer also saddles My Will and Neptune Collonges.

Exotic Dancer, runner-up in the King George, renews rivalry on a course where he has already picked up two big handicaps in the Paddy Power and boylesports.com Gold Cups.

King George third Racing Demon could represent Henrietta Knight, who sent out Best Mate to a Gold Cup hat-trick in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

However, Knight’s charge also holds an entry in the Ryanair Chase on tomorrow’s card.

Robert Alner is double-handed with Lexus Chase victor The Listener and Kingscliff, while Evan Williams saddles State Of Play, who has not run since winning the Hennessy at Newbury in November.

The home team is completed by Welsh National winner Halcon Genelardais, Bob Bob Bobbin, Idle Talk, Monkerhostin and Turpin Green.

The Irish contingent has been weakened by the absence of 2006 winner War Of Attrition and In Compliance but still have three fair chances in last year’s third Forget The Past, Beef Or Salmon, who is making his fifth successive appearance in the race, and Cane Brake, trained by Tom Taaffe, who won with Kicking King in 2005.

A French trio of last year’s fourth L’Ami, Marble Garden and Sybellius D’Artaix complete the line-up.

Five horses – Billyvoddan, Crozan, Kill Devil Hill, Nil Desperandum and Our Vic - were withdrawn at the final declaration stage.

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