Kauto all set for Gold rush
Kauto Star is "full of beans" according to owner Clive Smith ahead of his eagerly-awaited appearance in the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup next week.
Paul Nicholls' chaser is now an 11-year-old and has undoubtedly been one of the greatest National Hunt horses of the modern era. He finished third behind the six-year-old Long Run and stablemate Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and Smith feels there is no reason to retire while he is still enjoying life.
"Kauto Star is very much on course for Punchestown. He is certainly full of beans at the moment and as good as he can be at 11 years of age. I think that he just suffered a bit from old age at Cheltenham and he would have been a good match for Long Run if he was four years younger," said Smith.
"He came out of that run in very good order and we decided to miss the Sandown (Bet365) Gold Cup because the ground would have been very firm and we were glad that we didn't risk him there. Hopefully the ground at Punchestown will be watered well and he can run another good race.
"I don't think that the performance of Master Minded at Aintree will affect where we go with Kauto Star in the future. We will take it race by race with Kauto Star, obviously starting with Punchestown.
"If he comes out of next week's race well, comes back after a good summer and feels good on the gallops, then we will go on with him. He will be retired any time that we feel that he has had enough.
"Somebody suggested that he would be retired if he ran a bad race but it is more a question of whether he is feeling up to it or not - if he is not enjoying it, then he will be retired.
"He is still enjoying the training and sometimes you can do more damage to a horse by retiring them because they miss the daily routine. Clifford Baker rides Kauto Star every day and he feels very good about him."