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Cheltenham

  • 15:20 Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup3m 2f 110y

  • £475,000 added 5yo+ 16 ran
  • Winner: £
  • Going: Good to Soft, Good in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 6m 44.95s
  • Off time: 15:20:48

Kauto The Gold Star Once Again

By Martin Kelly, PA Sport.   Last Updated: 13/03/09 6:52pm

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Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh reign again.

Kauto Star and Ruby Walsh reign again.

Immortality beckons for Kauto Star after the 2007 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup winner regained his crown to the ear-splitting cheers of the Festival faithful on a memorable afternoon in the Cotswolds.

The punishing finish of 12 months ago, when his stablemate Denman crushed Kauto Star, was replaced with an almost serene scene which saw the vanquished hero power up the hill 13 lengths ahead of last year's winner.

Newspapers, hats and scarves filled the air as Ruby Walsh - winning his seventh race of the week - pinged the final fence aboard the 7-4 favourite whose performance was faultless.

The Clive Smith-owned nine-year-old majestically soared over his fences, but surprisingly had Denman for company when playing his cards four out.

Denman's participation had been in serious doubt until two weeks ago due to an interrupted campaign caused by a heart problem, but the nine-year-old excelled himself with his brave second.

He was ultimately no match for Kauto Star, with Paul Nicholls' flagbearer showing no stamina limits to become the first horse in history to reclaim the Gold Cup.

Following his one-two-three of last year, Nicholls' squad filled four of the first five places this time with Jonjo O'Neill's Exotic Dancer splitting Neptune Collonges in fourth and My Will in fifth.

The champion trainer said: "Kauto has run a blinder and has done what Ruby and I thought he would.

"In my mind he was never going to get beat today and he is very good when he is like that.

"I enjoyed watching the race today as I had every confidence in him that he would do what he did."

Kauto Star now has two Gold Cups in addition to his three King George wins, two Betfair Chases and victory over two miles at the top level in the Tingle Creek.

However, he will be campaigned more selectively in future with Nicholls mindful that he is best fresh.

The trainer continued: "He is as good as he has ever been. We very nearly got away with running him at Haydock but he now won't run that often.

"I will have to discuss if he goes again this season with Clive. He won't go to Aintree but could possibly go to Punchestown.

"Next year I suspect you will see him at Down Royal, at Kempton and then back here.

"It is quite emotional when horses do what he has done. He is close to all our hearts and great for racing.

"He was my first very, very good horse to come along and you dream about getting horses like him."

The sponsors make Kauto Star their 5-2 favourite to emulate Best Mate and win the race for a third time next year, with Denman a 7-2 chance.

Nicholls and Walsh came close to claiming a clean-sweep of the championship races this week with Celestial Halo failing by a whisker in the Champion Hurdle while Big Buck's won the World Hurdle and Master Minded the Champion Chase.

And for Walsh, Kauto Star's romp was a record-breaking seventh win at the 2009 Festival.

Walsh said: "I hope I don't wake up and find it is Tuesday morning!

"From the word go he jumped and travelled incredibly.

"I didn't plan to be in front as early as I was but he flew three out and then Denman carried me into the straight and I had to go.

"He travelled an awful lot better this year and was a lot fresher and sharper.

"He has unbelievable scope in him and has that power when you need it.

"He jumped super and never missed a beat. Denman was awesome here last year but when Kauto won in Down Royal, I thought that this horse is coming back.

"He was brilliant in the King George and when I have been down to Paul's, he made me think he is back to the horse I believed he was the year before last.

"He's the greatest horse I've ever ridden. Two miles, three miles, now two Gold Cups. He's magic, he's a wonder horse."

Reflecting on Nicholls' yard, he added: "It is an incredible operation and a wonderfully-run place.

"I love going down and any morning there is enjoyable. To be schooling Master Minded and Kauto Star at 8.30 in the morning is any jockey's dream."

The win was also Smith's second championship event of the week after Master Minded defended his Champion Chase crown, and he said: "I'm staggered.

"What a wonderful run, the best he's ever run I think.

"It's unbelievable to have won the Champion Chase and now this. I can't believe it.

"I just felt he was in great, great form. Paul and Ruby both said to me that this was the best he's ever been.

"The best race of his career, the best of his life and my life."

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