Saturday 2 March 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2007

The 2007 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Totesport, featured 18 runners but, frankly, will always be remembered for the presence of just one horse, Kauto Star.

Originally trained by Serge Foucher in France, Kauto Star joined Paul Nicholls in November, 2004, and recorded his first Grade 1 win in the Tingle Creek Chase, over 1 mile 7½ furlongs, at Sandown just over a year later. He rather blotted his copybook on his first visit to the Cheltenham Festival in 2006, falling at the third fence when 2/1 favourite for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Nevertheless, he was unbeaten in 2006/07, including wins in the Betfair Chase, over 2 miles 7 furlongs, at Haydock, the Tingle Creek Chase, again, and the King George VI Chase, over 3 miles, at Kempton. In fact, 2007 Cheltenham Gold Cup was his first attempt beyond 3 miles, but he still started 5/4 favourite to make it 6-6 for the season.

Ridden by Ruby Walsh, as he was for most of his career in Britain, Kauto Star was held up at the rear of the field before improving his position just after halfway. Approaching the fourth last fence, at the top of the hill, he was on the heels of the leaders and, when asked for an effort, quickened to lead at the second last fence. Despite almost breasting the final fence, he stayed on strongly up the hill to win by 2½ lengths and the same from 9/2 second favourite Exotic Dancer and 40/1 outsider Turpins Green.

Kauto Star earned just over £242,000 for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup but, having already won the first two legs of the so-called “Betfair Million” – the Betfair Chase and the King George VI Chase – was also eligible for a bonus of £1 million.

“That was good,” said winning trainer Paul Nicholls in a major understatement, later adding, “He was going so well that I think he just lost his concentration at the last, but he never looked like falling. I don’t know what goes through his mind when he does that, but he’s not tired.”

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