Kauto Star cannot be opposed, and it is left to the likes of L'Ami and Tango Royal to pick up the scraps. Kauto Star continues his rise to meteoric fame, and has done nothing so far to dispel the widely-held opinion that he is the best chaser around whatever the distance. Unbeaten this season, he proved that there were no limits to his stamina when trouncing Beef Or Salmon at Haydock in November, with L'Ami behind in third. Since then he has collected the Tingle Creek over the minimum trip, and the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. The one flaw in his character if there is one is that he does take the odd liberty at his fences, but he is such a well-balanced bull of a horse that he always seems to put himself right, and that will stand him in good stead in the Gold Cup. He should go there unbeaten still as his form is head and shoulders above today's opposition, with King George runner-up Exotic Dancer paying the form a handsome compliment both before and after. Tango Royal gets 10lb off the favourite but that is about the only thing in his favour, while the selection's stablemates Royal Auclair and Sleeping Night do not look anywhere near up to the task. From a betting point of view it is a non-event, but hopefully Kauto Star can do it in style on route to Cheltenham.
Kauto Star (FR) 8-13fav (11-10) Held up, headway 11th, went 2nd 12th, blundered 4 out, disputing lead well before 3 out, definite advantage 3 out, soon clear, won at Kempton 3m chs Grd 1 (1) gs in Dec beating Exotic Dancer (11-10) by 8l, 9 ran.
Royal Auclair (FR) 33-1 (11-9) Held up in rear, never a factor, 7th of 10, 24l behind Whispered Secret (10-3) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) hvy in Jan.
King Harald (IRE) 9-2jt-fav (11-4) Close up, led approaching 3rd, headed 5th, pushed along approaching 10th, ridden approaching 3 out, weakened quickly approaching 2 out, in 5th and beat when mistake and unseated rider 3 out in race won by A Glass In Thyne (10-12) at.
L'ami (FR) 5-1 (11-10) 2nd and disputed lead, slight mistake 1st, close up when mistake 2 out, soon outpaced, 4th of 6, 19l behind The Listener (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs Grd 1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Sleeping Night (FR) 33-1 (11-0) Not fluent, dropped to rear 7th, losing touch when mistake 3 out, hit next, 6th of 9, well behind Blazing Bailey (11-0) at Cheltenham 3m hdl Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan.
Tango Royal (FR) 6-1 (11-12) Held up, headway 14th, led 2 out, 2 lengths clear last, held on well, won at Newbury 3m hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs in Dec beating Irish Raptor (11-8) by 1/2l, 7 ran.